NJIT Awarded Grant To Establish a Vision Center

NEWARK, September 11- A team of researchers lead by Richard Greene, Becton-Dickinson professor of biomedical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), was awarded a $250,000 state grant to establish the New Jersey Vision Technology Center. The Center, based at NJIT, is developing medical devices to prevent blindness in patients with diabetes, glaucoma and other eye diseases.

The New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology gave the grant – a one-year research and development seed award.

The research team includes Gordon Thomas, distinguished research professor of applied physics at NJIT, and Robert Fechtner, director of the glaucoma division at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. Also on the team are other NJIT professors and NJIT students -- both graduate and undergraduates.

Editor’s Note: Here’s a list of NJIT professors and students, along with their hometowns, who are doing research at the Vision Center. Professors Richard Greene, Ridgewood; Gordon Thomas, Princeton; Avid Kamgar, Bernardsville; and Tara Alvarez, Andover Township; Students Aysegal Ergin, Bloomfield; Ryan Tolboom, Hightstown; Alain Tchouassi, Newark; Sheng Liu, Harrison; Peter Marchetto, Maywood; Garrett Smith, Alfa; and NJIT research technician Nick Ciampa, North Plainfield.

“In addition to improving the diagnosis and management of diseases such as glaucoma and diabetes,” said Thomas, the NJIT physicist on the team, this grant will spur economic development in the state’s biotechnology industry, since the devices we’re researching have promising commercial prospects as useful medical devices.”

Greene said the Vision Center is working closely with in-state firms to develop and commercialize the medical devices. For each device, Greene said, a group of scientists and clinicians from the Vision Center is collaborating with a New Jersey company, whose R&D staff will help turn prototypes into products.

The center unites experts from different technical areas, including medical doctors with clinical expertise, specialists with background in complex materials, consultants from industry, imaging experts from solar astronomy as well as biomedical engineers.

“And we are grateful to the Commission on Science and Technology,” Greene added, for supporting this research that will ultimately help patients, local industry and the state economy.”

Greene noted that the Vision Center’s makeup – a research university, a medical school and private industry – makes it uniquely suited to develop devices to prevent blindness.

One such device would make it easier for diabetics to test their glucose levels.

Acting as part of an artificial pancreas, the device is designed to measure patients’ glucose levels in their eye fluid, controlling the release of insulin from a pump. The device, implanted in eyeglass frames, would eliminate finger sticks – now used by diabetics.

The Vision Center is also developing a device that would enable glaucoma patients to measure their own eye pressure and test themselves frequently at home. The device is designed to measure the pressure inside patients’ eyes by touching their eyelids. Currently, glaucoma patients – three million Americans – must visit the doctor to test their eye pressure. The device will allow patients to test themselves without drugs.

The Vision Center is also funded by grants from the National Medical Technology Testbed (Department of the Army) the Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation, of Denville, N.J., as well as by funds from Becton Dickinson, Inc, Lucent Technologies and NJIT.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

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