Pakistani-origin American Dr. Mark S. (Salman) Humayun was the recipient of America’s highest award for achievement in technology, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The award was presented to him by US President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony in the last week of January.

Dr. Humayun was one of nine Americans chosen for the honour this year. He was recognized for his efforts to bring engineering and medical science together to restore sight to patients suffering from hereditary retinal degenerative disease. He’s the co-director of the USC Eye Institute and has created the Argus II, also known as the ‘bionic eye’.

The Argus II has been hailed as a miracle solution for people losing vision from degenerative eye disease. It functions with a camera mounted on special glasses that sends signals to a receiver with electrodes implanted in and around the eye. The signals stimulate the retina, which transmits impulses to the brain, which then interprets them as images; a miracle indeed.

Dr. Humayun has been training opthalmologic surgeons around the world in implanting the Argus II device, helping thousands of visually impaired people to see.

From infants to ageing seniors, the USC Eye Institute has for years been treating patients with all kinds of vision problems. It’s well-known for its scientific research and clinical innovation in this field. The institute was the first to carry out training programs for eye doctors in developing countries.

For Mark Humayun, public service may be an inherited trait. His grandfather, Dr. Col. Ilahi Baksh was personal physician to the Quaid-e-Azam and a citizen of exemplary repute.