USC Life Trustee Alfred E. Mann, a world-renowned humanitarian and entrepreneur who founded 17 companies in the aerospace and biomedical technology industries, died Feb. 25. He was 90.Throughout his distinguished career, Mann dedicated himself to developing technologies that dramatically improve patients’ lives. His companies produced and marketed products such as pacemakers, cochlear implants and retinal implants that revolutionized health care, and touched countless lives around the world. Most recently, Mann was chairman and chief executive officer of MannKind Corp., a biopharmaceutical company that pioneers therapies and drug delivery technologies for the treatment of diabetes, metabolic disease and cancer. He stepped down as chief executive officer in January 2015 and as chairman of the board this month.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has received $4 million in funding from the Mann Fund to develop a next-generation retinal prosthesis system. The Mann Fund was created by philanthropist Alfred E. Mann 15 years ago to support the development of biomedical technologies.
This work will be conducted in close collaboration with Second Sight Medical Products, a Sylmar, California–based company that develops, manufactures, and markets implantable visual prosthetics for blind individuals.
APL will be developing the next-generation glasses with embedded vision- and eye-tracking sensors. Using these sensors and onboard hardware, the system will identify potential obstacles, doorways, hallways, and household objects and their relative positions. This information will be distilled into a format that can be projected into the retinal prosthesis, bypassing the damaged rods and cones in the retina.