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José-Alain Sahel, MD

  • Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology University of Pittsburgh Medical School, The Eye and Ear Foundation Endowed Chair
  • Director, UPMC Vision Institute
  • Exceptional Class Professor of Ophthalmology - Sorbonne Université
  • Director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire FOReSIGHT
  • Adjunct Professor of Robotics and Bioengineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
  • Adjunct Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Honorary Professor, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London


José-Alain Sahel, M.D., is distinguished professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, Eye & Ear Foundation Endowed Chair University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and adjunct professor of Robotics and Bioengineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. He is an exceptional class professor of Ophthalmology at Sorbonne Université and was the founding director of The Vision Institute (Sorbonne Université, Inserm, CNRS) Paris, France (till 31 December 2020). He headed the French National Reference Center for Rare Retinal Dystrophies and the Paris Ophthalmology Clinical Investigation Center (2006-2020), overseeing more than 80 clinical trials, some of them within the most advanced areas of biomedical technologies (retinal implants, gene therapy, stem cell therapy, optogenetics).


Dr. Sahel is a clinician-scientist conducting research on vision restoration focusing on cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying retinal degeneration and development of treatments for currently untreatable retinal diseases. He co-authored over 680 peer-reviewed articles and 40 patents. He was a founder of Fovea pharmaceuticals, which became the ophthalmological division of Sanofi, and is a scientific co-founder of StreetLab (visual adaptation and rehabilitation), GenSight Biologics (gene therapy) and Pixium Vision (artificial retina), among other biotech companies. 


Dr. Sahel is recipient of numerous awards including the Foundation Fighting Blindness Trustee Award, Alcon Research Institute Award for Excellence in Vision Research, Grand Prix NRJ-Neurosciences-Institut de France, Foundation Fighting Blindness Llura Liggett Gund Award, Charpak-Dubousset Award, Médaille Grand Vermeil, Ville de Paris, 2021 Breakthrough in the Life Sciences - Falling Walls Foundation, Berlin, Germany. 


He was elected to the: Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, Académie des Sciences-Institut de France, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, National Academy of Technologies of France, Association of American Physicians and American Ophthalmology Society. Dr. Sahel is Honoris Causa doctorate of University of Geneva and held the Technological Innovation Chair at the Collège de France (2015-2016). He is a member of several editorial scientific advisory boards, including Science Translational Medicine.