In memoriam: Joseph Izatt, OCT imaging pioneer

April 10, 2024
Izatt, whose work in optical coherence tomography (OCT) led to improvements in medical diagnostics, passed away April 7, 2024.

Joseph Izatt, the Michael J. Fitzpatrick Professor of Engineering and chair of the Duke University (Durham, NC) Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), passed away on April 7, 2024. 

Izatt was a skilled researcher and inventor who played a foundational role in the development of optical coherence tomography (OCT). The noninvasive medical imaging technique uses optical interferometry to peer through layers of soft tissue, such as the retina at the back of the eye, to provide richly detailed images that guide diagnosis and treatment decisions. 

Izatt’s decades-long interdisciplinary collaboration with Dr. Cynthia Toth, a medical doctor and Duke professor of ophthalmology, helped bring this research directly to patients. Their work to improve the accuracy of examination and surgery of the eye led to handheld OCT systems for infants and the first intraoperative OCT-guided system for surgery. 

Izatt advised and collaborated with talented students and staff in his Biophotonics Group to advance OCT technology. Together, they developed new methods to improve noninvasive medical diagnostics, in vivo tomographic microscopy, and real-time image-guided robotic surgery. The lab’s expertise in OCT technology has also allowed them to expand their reach beyond the realm of biomedical imaging to other endeavors, such as investigating how OCT could help autonomous robots and vehicles to see better. 

In recognition of these impressive scientific contributions, Izatt was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). 

Beyond his research, Izatt was recognized as a kind and dedicated mentor and leader within Duke Engineering. He received the Pratt School’s Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising in 2008 and the Graduate School Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2017. He also helped shape the direction of the wider university, serving as chair for both the Pratt 2039 organizational visioning exercise and the Search Committee for Duke’s Vice President for Research and Innovation. 

Izatt took up the mantle as chair of Duke BME in 2022. In this role, he helped support the department’s trajectory of success by recruiting outstanding new research and teaching faculty. He also worked with the BME Strategic Visioning Committee to ensure that the department continues to educate ethical, well-rounded engineers who can guide and transform the future of the biomedical engineering field.

About the Author

LFW Staff

Published since 1965, Laser Focus World—a brand and magazine for engineers, researchers, scientists, and technical professionals—provides comprehensive global coverage of optoelectronic technologies, applications, and markets. With 80,000+ qualified print subscribers in print and over a half-million annual visitors to our online content, we are the go-to source to access decision makers and stay in-the-know.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Motion Scan and Data Collection Methods for Electro-Optic System Testing

April 10, 2024
Learn how different scanning patterns and approaches can be used in measuring an electro-optic sensor performance, by reading our whitepaper here!

How Precision Motion Systems are Shaping the Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
This article highlights the pivotal role precision motion systems play in supporting the latest semiconductor manufacturing trends.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!