Christoph Hitzenberger and Adolf Fercher from MedUni Vienna have been awarded this year’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize. The prize is awarded by the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for technological developments that "have had a significant impact on society and have helped to improve human well-being". The two researchers from Vienna played a major role in the development of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), an examination procedure that is predominantly used in medical imaging.
This year's prize was awarded to Christoph Hitzenberger and Adolf Fercher, together with three Americans, James G. Fujimoto, David Huang and Eric A. Swanson.
Adolf Friedrich Fercher, former Head of the Institute of Medical Physics (1986 to 2008), is a pioneer in the field of ophthalmic laser interferometry and, in 1986, he was the first to measure the human eye using this technique. He is considered to be the spiritual father of the first Low-Coherence Interferometry (LCI) devices used in ophthalmology.
Christoph Hitzenberger, Deputy Head of the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at MedUni Vienna, developed the first heterodyne LCI system for measuring intraocular distances (axial eye length, retinal thickness). Together with Adolf Fercher, he developed the spectral domain LCI technique (1995), which, due to its high measuring sensitivity, forms the basis of modern clinical OCT ophthalmic examination devices.
"This is an extraordinary and well-deserved award for Adolf Fercher and Christoph Hitzenberger, who have done outstanding pioneering work in the field of OCT, one of the most significant developments in medical diagnostics of the last few decades,” says MedUni Rector Markus Müller, expressing his delight at the award. "Being recognised by the award of the "Nobel prize for engineering sciences" is a great honour for our university as well."
About the Russ Prize
The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize is an engineering prize that has been awarded by the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE) since October 1999. Named after Fritz Russ, the founder of Systems Research Laboratories, and his wife Dolores Russ, this prize is awarded by the NAE for technological developments that "have had a significant impact on society and have helped to improve human well-being".
The NAE awards the prize every two years. The winners receive a cash prize of US$500,000 and a gold medal. Together with the Gordon Prize and the Draper Prize, the Russ Prize is also known as the "Nobel prize for engineering sciences".