Nicholas Durr, PhD

Assistant Professor

Undergraduate Design Team Co-Director

Office: Clark 208D
Lab: Durr Computational Biophotonics Lab


PhD, BME, University of Texas, Austin, 2010
MS, BME, University of Texas, Austin, 2007
BS, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley, 2003

Research Interests

Nicholas Durr is an assistant professor and co-director of the undergraduate Design Team program in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Durr’s Computational Biophotonics Lab aims to create impactful technologies that improve diagnostics, reduce costs and increase accessibility to high-quality healthcare. The lab creates new optical technologies to reveal actionable clinical information. Durr and his team are particularly interested in computational biophotonics—creating new ways in which structured light can be used in combination with intelligent algorithms to probe and interpret the interaction of light with biological issues. By shaping and monitoring the spatial, temporal, spectral and coherence properties of light as it interacts with tissues, they strive to extract physiological information that will improve diagnostics, guide treatments, monitor therapies and ultimately enable impactful new medical devices. Their work incorporates concepts from optical engineering, light-tissue interaction, computer vision, machine learning and biodesign.

Current projects include creating smart endoscopy technologies to improve colorectal cancer screening, researching microscopy techniques for non-invasive blood analysis, inventing tools to increase eye care accessibility, and developing imaging systems that are optimized for computer-aided detection of disease.

Durr co-founded PlenOptika, Inc., a Boston-based company that commercializes technologies that improve eye care accessibility worldwide. As the CEO of PlenOptika, he co-developed QuickSee—an inexpensive, handheld device that accurately prescribes eyeglasses with the push of a button.

He has won numerous awards for his work, including a Johns Hopkins Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising, and a National Institutes of Health Trailblazer Award. Durr collaborates extensively with industry and start-up companies, including PlenOptika, Leuko Labs, Kubanda, Olympus, Under Armour, Boston Scientific and Google. He  serves on the committee for the National Inventors Hall of Fame, is the faculty mentor for MedHacks, and is an active mentor in Hopkins FLI Network for first-generation, limited-income students. He served as guest editor for a Biomedical Optics Express feature issue on optical technologies to improve healthcare in low-resource settings and a peer reviewer for journals such as IEEE Transactions in Medical Imaging, the Journal of Biomedical Optics, Gut, and PNAS.

Durr received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2003. He then earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2007 and 2010, respectively. After receiving his doctorate, Durr trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, and then as an M+Visión Medical Imaging and Innovation Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as CEO of PlenOptika from 2013 to 2015. He joined the faculty of the Whiting School of Engineering in 2016.

Selected Publications

From Pub Med   |   Google Scholar Profile

Publications Search

Durr, N. J., Dave, S. R., Vera-Diaz, F. A., Lim, D., Dorronsoro, C., Marcos, S., Thorn, F., & Lage, E. (2015). Design and Clinical Evaluation of a Handheld Wavefront Autorefractor. Optometry and Vision Science, (92)12.

Durr, N. J., Dave, S. R., Lage, E., Marcos, S., Thorn, F., & Lim, D. (2014). From Unseen to Seen: Tackling the Global Burden of Uncorrected Refractive ErrorsAnnual review of biomedical engineering16, 131–153.

González, G., Parot, V., Lo, W., Vakoc, B. J., & Durr, N. J. (2014). Feature Space Optimization for Virtual Chromoendoscopy Augmented by Topography. In Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention — MICCAI 2014 (pp. 642–649). Springer International Publishing.

Parot, V., Lim, D., González, G., Traverso, G., Nishioka, N. S., Vakoc, B. J., & Durr, N. J. (2013). Photometric stereo endoscopyJournal of biomedical optics,18(7), 076017–076017.

Durr, N. J., Weisspfennig, C. T., Holfeld, B. A., & Ben-Yakar, A. (2011). Maximum imaging depth of two-photon autofluorescence microscopy in epithelial tissuesJournal of biomedical optics16(2), 026008–026008.