William H. Dobelle, Ph.D., 62, one of the world's leading experts in artificial vision and former associate director for biomedical engineering at the University of Utah, died Oct. 5, 2004, in New York, from complications of diabetes.
In 2003, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for medicine. He had dedicated his life to creating, developing and improving medical devices — most notably implantable neurostimulators — and artificial vision systems for the blind or visual cortex stimulators.
Dr. Willem J. Kolff, considered the father of artificial organs and kidney dialysis, refers to Dr. Dobelle as an organizational genius and one of the most selfless individuals he has ever met.
During his time at the University of Utah, Dr. Dobelle directed research on artificial vision for the blind and artificial hearing for the deaf. He also organized the university's microelectronics laboratory and the Intermountain organ bank.
He had also been director of artificial organs for Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and was inducted into the National Academy of Science in 1996.
Dr. Dobelle received a Ph.D. in neurophysiology from the University of Utah, and a bachelor's and master's degrees in biophysics from John Hopkins University.
"Pick the hardest thing you think you can do and then do it," was his motto.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.