Medical Imaging Pioneers Fujimoto, Swanson & Huber Named 2017 EPO European Inventor Award Finalists

Thanks to this team, doctors can now create real-time images of human tissue for early detection of cancer, glaucoma and other ailments.

The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that the team of U.S. Engineers James G. Fujimoto and Eric A. Swanson, and German Physicist Robert Huber, have been named finalists for the European Inventor Award 2017 in the category of “Non-European countries.” The winners of the 12th edition of the EPO’s annual innovation prize will be announced at a ceremony held on June 15th at the Arsenale di Venezia in Venice, Italy.

Ever since the discovery of X-rays by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895 doctors have been able to “look inside” the human body for diagnostic purposes. But despite newer imaging methods, such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), certain segments of human anatomy remained opaque. Soft tissue, especially minuscule blood vessels in the human eye and heart, proved nearly impossible to visualize. This has changed thanks to an entirely new category of medical imaging created by US engineers James G. Fujimoto and Eric A. Swanson together with German physicist Robert Huber. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) relies on “echoes” of light beams to render soft tissues visible in real time and in microscopic detail. Premiered as a clinical prototype in 1993, OCT is now used in around 30 million procedures per year around the world.

“Thanks to this team, doctors can now create real-time images of human tissue for early detection of cancer, glaucoma and other ailments,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli, announcing the European Inventor Award 2017 finalists. “The optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging method is an impressive example of…

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