Professor Jer Kuszak

IAS Fellow at Collingwood College, Durham University (October – December 2011)

Professor Kuszak earned his PhD degree in ultrastructural cell biology in 1980 at Wayne State University School of Medicine under the guidance of the distinguished lens researcher Dr Harry Maisel. He spent the next three years as a post-doctoral fellow at Rush Medical College where he was mentored by the pre-eminent lens electrophysiologist Dr James L. Rae. Upon completion of his postgraduate training he was appointed to the faculty and staff of the departments of pathology and ophthalmology at Rush Medical College, where he remained until his retirement as a full professor in 2010. While Professor Kuszak retains his emeritus chair in ophthalmology and pathology at Rush, he is now chief senior scientist at LensAr Inc., a multi-million dollar company, whose mission is to fundamentally change the way cataract surgery is done. LensAr is designing an advanced laser system to enhance the precision, predictability and safety of critical incisions in cataract surgery.

Professor Kuszak is the recipient of numerous scientific awards, including the prestigious Alcon Research Institute Award for career excellence in eye research. He is the author of over 100 scientific manuscripts and book chapters and is a reviewer for many international scientific journals and grant agencies. He is also a key scientific advisor to various vision science organizations and commercial enterprises.

In evolution, the appearance of the lens marks the transition from a pinhole to a camera-like eye; a quantum leap in visual performance. And yet it is still not understood how this tissue functions in the eye, nor has it been possible to engineer anything comparable. However, by more fully accounting for the variable three-dimensional complexity of lens structure between species and how this varies over time, Professor Kuszak and his team have potentially discovered the underlying anatomical basis of lens function and transparency; a critically important development in this field..

Whilst at the IAS, Professor Kuszak will work with a multidisciplinary team of vision scientists at Durham on the ‘Future-Proofing Eye Function’ programme. He will engage with engineers, mathematicians and physicists to successfully model life-long lens growth in order to enhance normal lens function into old age.