University of Rochester professor to receive seventh annual Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences
Leading vision researcher David Williams, whose pioneering use of adaptive optics has improved the effectiveness of laser refractive surgery, the design of contact lenses and enabled the imaging of single cells in the living retina, will receive the seventh annual Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences from Brandeis University.
The Pepose Award is funded by a $1 million endowment established in 2009 through a gift from Jay Pepose ’75, MA’75, P’08, P’17, and Susan K. Feigenbaum ’74, P’08, P’17, his wife, through the Lifelong Vision Foundation. The endowment also supports graduate research fellowships in vision science.
Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics at the University of Rochester, director of the Center for Visual Science, and dean for research of arts, science and engineering, will receive the award and deliver a public lecture, “Seeing Through the Retina,” at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 in Gerstenzang 121.
Williams is considered one of the world’s leading experts on human vision and has developed new technologies to improve the eyesight of people, from the legally blind to those with 20/20 vision. His laboratory developed an automated method to measure and correct the optical defects of the eye far more accurately than had been possible before, which has enhanced laser refractive surgery and the design of contact lenses. By applying this approach to cameras for taking pictures of the retina, Williams has succeeded in imaging the smallest cells at the back of the living eye, providing a higher resolution view of the normal and diseased retina than was possible before.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Williams has received the Friedenwald Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Bressler Prize from the Lighthouse Guild, the Tillyer Medal from the Optical Society of America, and the Champalimaud Vision Award.. He is the author of more than 100 patents and papers.
“Dr. Williams played a pioneering role in the development and novel application of adaptive optics imaging,” Pepose said. “This has enhanced our understanding of the fundamental limitations of spatial and color vision, and led to new treatment options for optical correction. He went on to utilize these innovative technologies in the non-invasive study of retinal form and function in health and disease. Their application may ultimately translate into earlier detection and staging of glaucoma, macular degeneration and inherited retinal degenerations.”
Past winners of the Pepose Award include William T. Newsome, Stanford University; Richard Masland, Harvard University; Gordon Fain, University of California, Los Angeles; Michael Stryker, University of California, San Francisco; Peter Schiller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Jay and Maureen Neitz, University of Washington.
Pepose is the founder and medical director of the Pepose Vision Institute in St. Louis and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at Washington University. He founded and serves as board president of the Lifelong Vision Foundation, whose mission is to preserve lifelong vision for people in the St. Louis community, nationally and internationally through research, community programs and education programs. He was part of the inaugural class of fellows of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. While a student at Brandeis, he worked closely with John Lisman, the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience and professor of biology at Brandeis.