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Page Updated: 20-Sep-2006
SPS Homepage > News 2003 > Prize 2003

Russia-US collaboration produces
breakthrough in ophthalmic research

2003 NATO Science Partnership Prize

Russia-US collaboration produces breakthrough in ophthalmic research 2003 NATO Science Partnership Prize

Dr. Andrey Larichev (Russia) and Dr. Leonard John Otten (USA) are the joint winners of the 2003 NATO Science Partnership Prize, for their collaboration through a NATO Science for Peace grant on development of a new high resolution imaging system used in examining the human retina.

The Prize will be presented to them by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at a Prizegiving ceremony at NATO Headquarters on 22 October 2003. The Prize will consist of a cash award of €10,000 per recipient to be used to support their research activity, as well as a special crystal memento and a certificate.

Breakthrough technology

The development of this new High Resolution Spectral Fundus Imager represents a revolutionary step forward in the field of clinical in-vivo imaging of the retina and retinal substructures.

The quality of the images produced shows for the first time in a living human eye features that had previously only been observed in dissected organs. A broad range of eye diseases that represent leading causes of visual impairment or blindness can now be studied in the clinical environment. Former instruments for retinal imaging took up huge areas of research laboratories; the system developed under the NATO grant miniaturized the technology to the size of a shoe box, and reduced the costs to commercially viable levels.

Generating new business

The researchers involved are now recognized as a leading international research team in the field of ophthalmic imaging. A further grant from the US National Eye Institute has enabled research to continue following the original developments under the NATO grant, and has allowed construction of the first clinical prototypes of the device. Over 1.2 million dollars-worth of new business has already been generated.

Russian participants are now manufacturing copies of the equipment and selling them in the United States and Russia, and a new export avenue has been opened for a major optical manufacturer in Zagorsk, Russia, which was previously closed to them because of US medical instrumentation certification requirements, now overcome through the NATO sponsorship. The partnership has resulted in the signing of multi-year contracts between the US Kestrel Corporation and two of the collaborating institutes in Russia to support research and component development in an expansion of the research begun under the NATO grant.

Science for Peace

The project aptly fulfilled the original objectives of the NATO Science for Peace programme, which supported projects of high quality applied science and technology with excellent potential for commercialisation. It involved real cooperation between US and Russian experts and used modern management practices. There was a realistic agreement on Intellectual Property Rights between the partners, which benefited both the Russian and the US researchers, and was protected by both Russian and US patents. It also attracted substantial additional funds from other organizations.

Two further notable features of the prizewinning partnership are that the project has involved the conversion of former military research and technology in Russia to civilian applications; and the new imaging device also has the potential to be used for biometrics applications, which will allow highly-reliable personal identification for security and counter-terrorism purposes.


Andrey Larichev is from the Institute on Laser and Information Technologies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Shatura, Moscow Region, and Leonard Otten is from the Kestrel Corporation, Albuquerque, New Mexico. They were awarded the NATO Science for Peace grant in 1999.