Oregon Health & Science University ophthalmologist, scientist and inventor David Huang, M.D., Ph.D., has received the United States’ highest honor for technological achievement.
President Joe Biden today presented Huang and others with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for developing the imaging technology known as optical coherence tomography, or OCT, which routinely helps prevent blindness. James G. Fujimoto, Ph.D., and Eric A. Swanson, M.S., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-inventors of OCT with Huang, were also honored at the White House ceremony.
The medal recognizes “American innovators whose vision, intellect, creativity, and determination have strengthened America’s economy and improved our quality of life,” the White House said in an announcement. Established by Congress and administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the first Medal of Technology and Innovation was presented in 1985.
The last time the White House bestowed the award was in 2015. At today’s ceremony, 12 individuals received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Nine others were also given the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor.
“You’re literally changing the world for the better,” President Biden told Huang and other honorees. A video of the full ceremony is available online.
OCT has transformed the way eye disease is diagnosed and managed. It enables ophthalmologists and optometrists to identify vision-threatening disease early, and often before patients experience symptoms.
OCT is used in more than 30 million imaging procedures worldwide each year to diagnose and treat the leading causes of blindness, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. In addition to the eye, OCT is used for medical conditions involving the heart, brain, skin, digestive tract and more. Cardiovascular specialists increasingly use it to evaluate plaque buildup and guide stent placement inside blocked arteries. OCT also helps diagnose skin cancer and measure neurodegeneration from multiple sclerosis and other neurologic conditions.
Huang, Fujimoto and Swanson invented OCT in the early 1990s, when Huang was an M.D./Ph.D. student working in Fujimoto’s MIT lab. Last month, the trio also received the 2023 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for their work on the imaging technology.
Huang holds 42 patents and has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles, which have been cited more than 40,000 times in scientific articles. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Inventors and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Huang is the director of research, associate director and Wold Family Chair in Ophthalmic Imaging at the OHSU Casey Eye Institute. He is also a professor ophthalmology and biomedical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine.