208D Clark Hall
Research Areas
Biomedical Data Science
Imaging and Medical Devices

Nicholas Durr is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is co-director of undergraduate design programs for Johns Hopkins’ Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID).

Durr’s Computational Biophotonics Lab aims to create impactful technologies that improve diagnostics, reduce costs, and increase access 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 bio-design.

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.