Leading retina researcher to receive eighth annual Pepose Award in Vision Sciences
Professor Frank Werblin, a leading retina researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, will receive the eighth 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.
Werblin, an emeritus professor of neuroscience at Berkeley and the founder of low-vision device developer Visionize, will receive the award and deliver a public lecture, “The Evolution of Retinal Science over the Last 50 Years,” at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14 in Gerstenzang 121.
Werblin is best known for his research that identified a number of cellular correlates underlying visual information processing in the retina. He is the author of numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, and he contributed articles on retinal circuitry to the Handbook of Brain Microcircuits (Oxford University Press) and retinal processing in the Encyclopedia of the Eye (Elsevier).
In 2013, after leaving Berkeley, he founded Visionize, a company that is dedicated to helping patients who suffer from diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa whose vision cannot be corrected with glasses or surgery. He has developed a wearable technology that implements readily available hardware developed by the virtual reality industry. He removes the entertainment software and reprograms the device to serve the low-vision community.
“After having made so many important contributions to our understanding of retinal circuitry, it is remarkable to see Professor Werblin parlay these insights, along with advances in smart phone and virtual reality technology, into the development of a practical, wearable low-vision device to enhance the quality of life of patients with various forms of retinal degeneration,” Pepose said.
Past winners of the Pepose Award include David Williams, University of Rochester; William 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.