Yoshikazu Imanishi, PhD, Receives 2017 Pisart Award 
For Outstanding Achievements in Vision Science Research

NEW YORK – March 6, 2017 – Lighthouse Guild, the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization, today announced that Yoshikazu Imanishi is the recipient of the 2017 Pisart Award. 

“Dr. Imanishi is being recognized for his

remarkable contributions to the field of vision

science and the significant impact of his research,”

says Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO of

Lighthouse Guild. “He is a stellar vision researcher

whose work has led to novel therapeutic approaches

and diagnostic methods for blinding disorders. His

pioneering work on Usher syndrome, an inherited

disorder causing combined blindness and deafness,

has brought hope to patients and families worldwide.”  

“Improving the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired is the core tenet of Lighthouse Guild,” Dr. Morse added. “By recognizing leading clinicians and scientists, such as Dr. Imanishi, who are searching for and finding ways to understand visual mechanisms, restore vision, and help those with vision loss, we bring new energy to our shared purpose and help lay the foundation for tomorrow’s breakthroughs.”

2017 Pisart Prize Recipient, Dr. Yoshikazu (Yoshi) Imanishi

Dr. Imanishi, who earned his PhD in 2000 from Osaka University in Japan, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He has solved several critical questions regarding the mechanisms and processes of photoreceptor development and maintenance, elevating the understanding, treatment and diagnosis of eye disorders. He and his laboratory team developed the photoconversion technique that enables fluorescent labeling of newly synthesized proteins. 

 “I am honored to receive this prestigious award from Lighthouse Guild,” Dr. Imanishi said. “It is my hope that my work as a vision researcher will lead to discoveries of novel therapeutic approaches and diagnostic methods for blinding disorders. This award is a tremendous encouragement for my future endeavors, and to further explore and solve long standing issues in the field of vision science.” 

Dr. Imanishi’s work has dramatically increased the understanding of the etiology of Usher syndrome for which he has discovered a potential cure. In pursing the goal of discovering new therapies for the disease, Dr. Imanishi has also invented a new method of drug screening, which is applicable to inherited disorders caused by protein-destabilizing gene mutations. Usher syndrome is one of the most complex neurological disorders causing combined deafness and blindness. It occurs in approximately 1 of every 25,000 births and is the leading cause of combined deafness and blindness in the world.    

Dr. Imanishi has been the first, senior or contributing author for 39 original research articles, six review articles and four book chapters. His manuscripts have been published in top-tier journals, including Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, Cell Metabolism, Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Journal of Neuroscience. 

The Pisart Award was established in 1981 and has annually recognized an early-career vision clinician or scientist whose noteworthy, innovative and scholarly contributions in vision science have the potential for substantial influence in the understanding of vision loss, treatment of eye disease or the rehabilitation of people with vision loss. An independent panel of judges from various vision care disciplines chooses the recipient. As the 2017 Pisart Award winner, Dr. Imanishi will receive a $30,000 prize at Lighthouse Guild’s annual Alfred W. Bressler Vision Science Symposium in the Fall. 

About Lighthouse Guild
Lighthouse Guild, headquartered in New York City, is the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization with a long history of addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. With more than 200 years of experience and service, Lighthouse Guild brings a level of understanding to vision care that is unmatched. By integrating vision and healthcare services and expanding access through its programs and education and awareness, we help people lead productive, dignified and fulfilling lives. For more information, visit lighthouseguild.org.

Lighthouse Guild Honors Leading Scientist 
from Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Yoshikazu Imanishi