ZEISS Symposium 2021: Optical Technologies Drive Medical Innovation

At this year's ZEISS Symposium "Optics in the Medical World" scientists and experts in the field discussed innovative technologies in medicine.

  • At the virtual Symposium, some 300 international experts discussed the role and the potential of optical technologies for medicine and healthcare
  • From scientific application in the lab to a standard process: the close collaboration between science and industry is a key success factor when it comes to putting medical research into practice
  • The highlight was the presentation of the ZEISS Research Award and the Carl Zeiss Awards for Young Researchers

Oberkochen, Germany | 10 June 2021 | ZEISS Group

Global healthcare systems are under enormous pressure to provide modern medical care to the world's growing and aging population. This can only be solved through future-ready, innovative and efficient technologies.

Optical technologies have always driven innovation in medicine. Coupled with digital technologies, they are becoming even more relevant with regard to meeting the rising and multifaceted needs of medicine and healthcare. That's why the third ZEISS Symposium, "Optics and Medicine," focused on how innovations in optics and photonics can help enhance patients' quality of life and drive medical progress.
"These are exciting times for medical technology. Scientific breakthroughs, such as those in imaging, optical sensors and light-based treatments, are opening up new doors for medical care. In particular, in combination with digitalization, modern applications that push the limits of what is technically feasible will be making inroads into many aspects of our lives and into medicine." Dr. Ludwin Monz, member of the Executive Board and Chairman of the Management Board of Carl Zeiss Meditec AG, opened the two-day virtual Symposium with these words.

This is the third time that ZEISS is hosting a high-caliber Symposium to promote the exchange of ideas between international researchers and industry representatives.

ZEISS Research Award and the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers
ZEISS Research Award and the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers

First-class research into optical technologies in healthcare

To kick off the Symposium, the main speakers presented the current status of their research. The speakers were: Prof. Dr. Eva M. Sevick-Muraca (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas), Dr. Jonathan Sorger (Intuitive Surgical Inc., Sunnyvale, California) and Prof. Dr. Vasilis Ntziachristos, (Helmholtz Center, Munich/Technical University of Munich). Their topics were: near-infrared fluorescence imaging for medical diagnostics (Eva M. Sevick-Muraca), progress in the visualization for intelligent (robot-assisted) surgery (Jonathan Sorger) and the label-free, optoacoustic imaging of biomolecules (Vasilis Ntziachristos). During the scientific workshops the participants got the chance to look at these complex topics and research approaches in more depth.

On the second day, the participants got the chance to join one of three scientific workshops, during which a variety of advances in photonic technologies for medicine were presented and discussed. The subsequent Symposium panel, comprising the three keynote speakers from the previous day and representatives from medicine, medical technology and health insurers, discussed the common challenges and possible solutions for providing better medical care.

Presentation of the ZEISS Research Award and the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers

One of the highlights of the Symposium was the presentation of the ZEISS Research Award 2020 and the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers.

Dr. Karl Lamprecht, ZEISS President and CEO, welcomed the top international researchers taking part in the event. "This award honors exceptional research in optics or photonics. Key factors that helped the illustrious jury make its decision was the possibility of putting these research outcomes into action and their potential for helping to develop innovative technologies.“

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mlynek from the Humboldt University of Berlin, former President of the Helmholtz Association and chairman of this year's jury, presented the ZEISS Research Award 2020 to Prof. Dr. Jian-Wei Pan, Professor at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. Professor Pan was honored for his research into quantum technology. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the awards ceremony was combined with the virtual Symposium 2021.

In his laudatory speech, Mlynek underlined the highly remarkable outcomes achieved by Prof. Jian-Wei Pan and their huge potential for enabling further findings and for practical application. Pan's research laid important foundations for optical quantum communication. "The research work shows a way to scale up such systems and thus to make practical use of their advantages," says Mlynek.

The ZEISS Research Award is the successor to the Carl Zeiss Research Award, which was first presented in 1990. The ZEISS Research Award has been presented every two years since 2016. It honors outstanding achievements in international optical research and has been allocated prize money totaling €40,000. Many of the winners went on to obtain further important awards and distinctions; four of them were even honored with the Nobel Prize (more information on the ZEISS Research Award and the winners is available here).

Since 2016, independently of the ZEISS Research Award, the Ernst Abbe Foundation in the Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany has been presenting a research award with a focus on up-and-coming talent: the Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers. The Young Researchers Award was also presented to Dr. Christian Haffner (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre, IMEC), Dr. Stefan Heist (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics, IOF) and Dr. Fabian Wolf (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, PTB) during the Symposium.

More information on the ZEISS Symposium and the ZEISS Research Award is available at:

Press Contact

Jörg Nitschke
Group Spokesman
Phone: +49 7364 20-3242
joerg .nitschke @zeiss .com


ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. In the previous fiscal year, the ZEISS Group generated annual revenue totaling 6.3 billion euros in its four segments Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology and Consumer Markets (status: 30 September 2020).

For its customers, ZEISS develops, produces and distributes highly innovative solutions for industrial metrology and quality assurance, microscopy solutions for the life sciences and materials research, and medical technology solutions for diagnostics and treatment in ophthalmology and microsurgery. The name ZEISS is also synonymous with the world's leading lithography optics, which are used by the chip industry to manufacture semiconductor components. There is global demand for trendsetting ZEISS brand products such as eyeglass lenses, camera lenses and binoculars.

With a portfolio aligned with future growth areas like digitalization, healthcare and Smart Production and a strong brand, ZEISS is shaping the future of technology and constantly advancing the world of optics and related fields with its solutions. The company's significant, sustainable investments in research and development lay the foundation for the success and continued expansion of ZEISS' technology and market leadership. ZEISS invests 12 percent of its revenue in research and development – this high level of expenditure has a long tradition at ZEISS and is also an investment in the future.

With over 34,000 employees, ZEISS is active globally in almost 50 countries with around 30 production sites, 60 sales and service companies and 27 research and development facilities. Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. The Carl Zeiss Foundation, one of the largest foundations in Germany committed to the promotion of science, is the sole owner of the holding company, Carl Zeiss AG (status: 31 March 2021).

Further information at www.zeiss.com

Press Contact

Jörg Nitschke
Group Spokesman
Phone: +49 7364 20-3242
joerg .nitschke @zeiss .com

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