The Golden Goose Awards honor 11 researchers for their breakthroughs in eye surgery, non-opioid painkillers, and more.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society, hosted the 11th annual Golden Goose Awards on September 14, 2022 (September 15 Eastern Standard Time). India). The Golden Goose Awards Ceremony is a celebration of federally funded scientific breakthroughs that unexpectedly benefit society. This year, the Golden Globe Awards honored 11 researchers for breakthroughs such as a new approach to corrective eye surgery and a non-opioid painkiller, among others. The Golden Goose Award honors scientific research that may have seemed funny, obscure, or was not expected to yield results at first, but ultimately led to breakthroughs.

This year’s Golden Goose Awards ceremony came a month after US President Joe Biden signed the historic CHIPS and Science Act, which will boost US semiconductor research, development and production.

The scientific discoveries made by this year’s winners are bladeless LASIK, a new approach to corrective eye surgery that is now considered the standard in the field and used by millions of people, a way to build a paper microscope inexpensive and highly effective, and a non-opioid analgesic, hidden in the venom of tiny conical snails. Conical sea snails living off the coastal waters of the Philippines contain poison that could be used as a non-opioid painkiller.

A lab incident led to better eye surgery for millions

Researchers who received the Golden Goose Award for bladeless LASIK include Ron Kurtz of ophthalmic medical technology company RxSight, Tibor Juhasz of California-based company ViaLase, Detao Du of Rayz Technologies, Gérard Mourou of École Polytechnique, and Donna Strickland from the University of Waterloo.

A graduate student at the University of Michigan’s Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) suffered an accidental eye injury nearly 30 years ago. His vision was not severely affected, according to a statement released by AAAS.

Observation of the highly precise and perfectly circular damage produced by the laser led to a collaboration of researchers who, eight years later, developed a bladeless approach to corrective eye surgery.

The process is called bladeless LASIK. It uses a femtosecond (unit of time equal to one millionth of a billionth of a second) laser rather than a precision scalpel cut into the human cornea before it is reshaped to improve the patient’s vision.

Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics “for their method of generating ultra-short high-intensity optical pulses”. The two researchers created these laser pulses without destroying the amplifier material. They amplified laser pulses that could be used for many applications, including corrective eye surgeries.

Paper microscopes that make science accessible

Manu Prakash of Stanford University and Jim Cybulski of Foldscope Instruments are the researchers who received the Golden Goose Award for discovering a way to build an inexpensive, high-performance paper microscope that can be used to diagnose disease and develop science education in remote areas. Inc.

Prakash was intrigued by a technical challenge while conducting research in remote parts of India and Thailand, according to AAAS. Transportation, training, and maintenance barriers in some parts of the world can make state-of-the-art microscopes inaccessible.

Prakash found a potential solution to this challenge in paper and, along with graduate student Jim Cybulski, designed a paper microscope known as the Foldscope. They used the principles of origami applied to printed paper, matchboxes and file folders to develop the microscope. Foldscope can achieve powerful magnification with materials that cost less than $1 to manufacture.

A decade after the invention, two million Foldscopes have been distributed in more than 160 countries. The Foldscope is used to diagnose infectious diseases and identify fake drugs, among other applications.

Snail venom painkiller

The researchers who received the Golden Goose Award for discovering a non-opioid painkiller, hidden in the venom of tiny conical snails, is Craig. T Clark (in memoriam), Lourdes J Cruz from the University of the Philippines, J Michael McIntosh from the University of Utah and Baldomero Marquez Oliver from the University of Utah. The painkiller significantly decreases pain for patients with chronic conditions and may help researchers develop new ways to map the body’s nervous system.

Lourdes Cruz and Baldomero Marquez Olivera were hampered by supply chain issues while conducting DNA research in the Philippines. Therefore, they began to examine cone snails, a group of highly poisonous marine molluscs. These are found in abundance along the coastal waters of the Philippines.

READ ALSO | From a sea snail, scientists hope to develop an alternative painkiller to morphine

After decades of work, Cruz and Olivera, along with Craig Clark and Michael McIntosh, have discovered the raw material for a non-opioid painkiller and a powerful new tool to study the central nervous system. The raw material was hidden in the powerful venom of the conical snail.

These unusual discoveries unexpectedly benefit society.

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