Today, Dr. Gholam A. Peyman, a faculty member with the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, has been named by President Barack Obama as one of 11 inventors who will receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Peyman also is a professor in both the College of Optical Sciences and the College of Engineering at the UA.
The award is given to "extraordinary inventors" and is the nation's highest honor for technological achievement.
"I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators," Obama said. "They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this nation great – and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment."
Eyeball Hall of Famer
Peyman, an ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon, is most widely known for the invention of the eye surgery known as LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), a vision correction procedure designed to allow people to see clearly without glasses. His innovations cover a broad range of novel medical devices, intraocular drug delivery, surgical techniques, laser and optical instruments, as well as new methods of diagnosis and treatment. He has won numerous honors and awards, including being inducted into the Hall of Fame of Ophthalmology.
"This is a great national honor for the tremendous contribution Dr. Peyman has made to medicine, science and technology,' said Stuart D. Flynn, dean of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix. “We are so proud of Dr. Peyman, and our faculty and students are grateful for the opportunity to have this amazing physician as part of our college."
Peyman is a member of the editorial board of nine distinguished ophthalmology journals. His awards include the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the first translational research award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and inclusion in the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Hall of Fame.
One-man Innovation Powerhouse
The list of “firsts” that follow Peyman’s name is nothing short of mind-boggling. He conducted pioneering studies in intraocular drug delivery and refractive and vitreoretinal surgery. He established the techniques of eye-wall resection and endoresection for intraocular tumors. He was the first to perform a retinochoroidal biopsy and transplant retinal pigment epithelial cells for age-related macular degeneration. He also is a pioneer in laser and photodynamic therapy.
He described the first pressure-controlled valve (the Krupin valve) for glaucoma surgery and developed the first telescopic intraocular lens for patients with macular disease. He also was among the first to implant an artificial silicone retina in patients with retinitis pigmentosa.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office created the National Medal of Technology and Innovation over 30 years ago. The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the nation’s technological workforce. A distinguished independent committee representing the private and public sectors selects the nominees.
“I never really thought that things would lead to this degree that it has come,” said Peyman, “and I also never worked necessarily to be a celebrity or anything, it didn’t really matter to me, because my satisfaction was that we were successful. We would work hard for it, that was the exciting part, the fun part of it. And also the patients who would see their results and would be satisfied.”