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Lydia Sauer, MD, Named Moran Eye Center’s 2020 ARCS Foundation Utah Scholar

Lydia Sauer, MD
Lydia Sauer, MD

Each year, the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation awards $15,000 to an incoming first-year Moran Eye Center resident to support research. This generous gift allows promising young researchers to continue moving forward with their work during residency. Moran then matches the award for the following two years of residency, providing a total of $45,000 to support research.

Moran’s 2020 ARCS Scholar is an accomplished researcher who has already contributed to medical advances using new imaging technology to detect eye diseases earlier than ever before.

Lydia Sauer, MD, completed medical school training at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, where she also pursued a doctoral degree in the Department of Experimental Ophthalmology. Her thesis focused on how a new retinal imaging technology, called fluorescence lifetime imaging ophthalmoscopy (FLIO), could be applied in basic science and clinical approaches. Her work received a prestigious thesis award by the German Ophthalmological Society.

Lydia Sauer, MD, left, examines a patient using fluorescence lifetime imaging ophthalmoscopy (FLIO).
Lydia Sauer, MD, left, performs a scan using fluorescence lifetime imaging ophthalmoscopy (FLIO).

Groundbreaking Research to Better Understand Eye Disease

Sauer’s research in FLIO related to retinal carotenoids—antioxidants made by plants that are believed to neutralize light-induced damage in the eye—connected her with Moran’s Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD. She accepted a visiting scholar position, helping establish Moran as the first FLIO imaging and research center in the U.S.

FLIO, a sensitive, non-invasive camera made by Heidelberg Engineering in Germany, is used to map subtle changes in the retina, with the potential to detect eye diseases even before a patient may be experiencing symptoms.

From 2018 until 2020, Sauer worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Bernstein lab, helping publish numerous FLIO studies that could revolutionize how clinicians diagnose and treat diseases. Her research was recognized with the Heidelberg Engineering Xtreme Research Award in 2019.

As a resident, Sauer aims to further establish FLIO as a clinical diagnostic tool, with a research focus on age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases.

She is receiving the ARCS Mark and Kathie Miller Award in honor of Moran CEO Randall J Olson, MD.