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Principal Investigators

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Paul-Baird

Professor Paul Baird

BSc Hons, PhD

Head, Ocular Genetics

Professor Paul Baird, a molecular geneticist, heads Ocular Genetics at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). He began his research career in the UK after his PhD studies at the University of London, working in the field of cancer genetics. Following senior research positions at the Hanson Centre, Adelaide and the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Paul Baird joined CERA in 2000.

Paul’s research team focuses on the identification of genes and determinants involved in several major eye diseases including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, myopia and keratoconus. He leads a group actively involved in international collaborations including international consortia researching AMD and myopia. A range of cutting edge techniques including genome wide association, genome sequencing, methylation and copy number studies are employed in the lab with the aim of personalising patient care.

Michael-Coote

Associate Professor Michael Coote

MBBS, FRANZCO, GAICD

Lead Investigator

Associate Professor Michael Coote is a Lead Investigator at CERA and the Clinical Director of Ophthalmology at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

Michael has been researching surgical solutions for Glaucoma for over 20 years and is a consultant to the Glaucoma Clinic at Hospital. He has presented at local and International meetings on Glaucoma Surgery and new techniques.

Michael, with Professor Jonathan Crowston, has developed the GONE online teaching and benchmarking tool which is free and has now been translated into Spanish and Chinese. The GONE program has had over 2500 Eye Care professionals enrol and use the program – far ahead of any other teaching program in Ophthalmology.

In addition, Michael has a strong interest in Clinical Quality and Audit is the Chair of the Board Quality Committee at Mercy Health.

Jonathan Crowston

Professor Jonathan Crowston

BSc, MBBS, PhD, FRCOphth, FRANZCO

Head, Glaucoma Research and Managing Director, CERA

Professor Jonathan Crowston is the Ringland Anderson Professor of Ophthalmology and Managing Director of CERA. He undertook his ophthalmology training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and was awarded a PhD at the Institute of Ophthalmology and University College London (2000) for basic research in conjunctival wound healing. He completed a Glaucoma Fellowship at the Centre for Vision Research in Sydney, Australia, before joining the Hamilton Glaucoma Centre at University California San Diego, where he subsequently joined the faculty prior to moving to Australia in 2006.

His current research interests are focused around ageing and neuroprotection of the optic nerve. In particular the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in optic nerve vulnerability to injury. Jonathan has attracted funding the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), Australian Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (UK). He has published over 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts and co-authored two books.

Jonathan has received a number of prestigious awards for his research and recently gained the RANZCO College of Ophthalmologists Excellence in Teaching Award.

Mark-Daniell

Associate Professor Mark Daniell

MB BS, MS, FRANZCO, FRACS

Head, Corneal Research

Mark Daniell is the Head of the Corneal Unit at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Associate Professor at CERA and the University of Melbourne. His main research interests are in cornea and external disease and stem cell surgery, as well as surgery of the cornea and lens.

Mark’s research at CERA is into corneal stem cell transplantation. Stem cells from various parts of the eye can be cultivated and expanded in the laboratory. Successfully transplanting these delicate cell layers requires the development of thin, transparent, biocompatible membranes. Together with collaborators at the University of Melbourne’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and at the Mawson Institute in Adelaide, Mark and his team are developing novel substrates for the transfer of stem cells into the eye.   Clinical trials into treatment of limbal stem cell failure secondary to chemical burns are due to start later this year.

His other research interest is in ocular infection. The current project is looking at innate immunity in the eye, in particular the role of mannin-binding lectin (MBL) in initiating the complement cascade

Dr Mohamed Dirani

Dr Mohamed Dirani

BOrth&OphthSci (Hons), PhD, GAICD

Head, Health Services and Evaluative Research

Dr Mohamed Dirani is a Principal Investigator at CERA. He completed his PhD at CERA in 2007, where he established a Classical Twin Study that investigated the genetic variance to refractive eye conditions and ocular dimensions. Dr Dirani then completed a post-doctoral position at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), where he led population based studies into refractive eye conditions and strabismus in Singaporean children. He then returned to CERA as a research fellow working on major epidemiological studies that investigated the key barriers to optimal diabetes care and diabetic eye disease in Australian adults. After a two-year self-funded break from research, he returned in July 2013 to pursue his Health Services research in diabetes and diabetic eye disease, with a focus on eye service delivery and evaluative research.

 

 

Professor Robyn Guymer

MBBS, PhD, FRANZCO, FAAHMS

Head, Macular Research and Deputy Director, CERA

Robyn Guymer is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia and a Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Melbourne . She is also a Senior Retinal Specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She is a clinician scientist who leads a team of 20 researchers primarily investigating Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). She has investigated genetic and environmental risk factors for AMD, predictors of response to treatments for late AMD, as well as being a principal investigator in many industry sponsored trials.

She is on several pharmaceutical advisory boards and is part of the Mactel Consortium, the Beckman/Ryan AMD initiative in the USA, and the International Classification of Atrophy group. She was part of the scientific leadership group for Bionic Vision Australia and the clinical program leader. She is currently investigating new strategies for treating early stages of disease with a nanosecond laser and is working to identify novel imaging and functional biomarkers and surrogate endpoints to allow efficacy of interventions to be determined. She is a member of the Macular Society and an inaugural Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor Guymer was awarded the NHMRC’s 2016 Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship for the top ranked female research fellowship in clinical medicine (Principal Research Fellowship).

MingHe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Mingguang He

MD, PhD, FRANZCO

Principal Investigator

Professor Mingguang He is the Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne. He undertook his medical training in China, holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and PhD in ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

Professor He is a global expert in vision-related clinical and epidemiologic research. He led several important population-based studies in China, including the first glaucoma survey and a large-scale twin study in China. He serves editorial board for several important journals, including Ophthalmology, PLoS One, Molecular Vision and APJO. He is currently the deputy secretary-general of Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

His research interests include clinical and epidemiological research, randomized clinical trials, twin studies and imaging technology. His current research priority is big data and precision medicine.

 

Alex Hewitt

Associate Professor Alex Hewitt

BMedSci (Hons), MBBS, PhD

Head, Clinical Genetics

A/Prof Alex Hewitt is a clinician-scientist and leads Clinical Genetics at CERA. During medical training he completed a BMedSci (Hons) degree investigating the outcomes of cataract surgery for people living in remote areas of the Northern Territory. He obtained his PhD investigating the molecular and phenotypic associations for open angle glaucoma from Flinders University of South Australia in 2009. Alex completed formal Ophthalmology training at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in 2012, and then spent one year on secondment at the Lions Eye Institute in Western Australia. He returned to Melbourne in 2013 to take up the position with CERA’s Clinical Genetics.

 

Lyndell Lim

Associate Professor Lyndell Lim

MBBS, FRANZCO

Head, Clinical Trials Research

A/Prof Lyndell Lim, a Uveitis and Medical Retina Subspecialist, leads the Clinical Trials Research at CERA. After completing her Ophthalmology training in Melbourne, A/Prof Lim then completed two Fellowships – one in Medical Retina at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, and one in Uveitis/Ocular Inflammatory Disease at the Casey Eye Institute, Portland, Oregon, USA.

A/Prof Lim’s main research interests are clinical studies in the field of uveitis and ocular immunology, and diabetic retinopathy. Her team runs both investigator initiated and sponsored clinical trials that aim to investigate new treatments in a variety of ophthalmic disease.

Alice Pebay

Associate Professor Alice Pébay

PhD

Head, Neuroregeneration

A/Prof Pébay leads Neuroregeneration at CERA. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience and has an extensive expertise in cell biology, including in neural cells, stem cell biology and lysophospholipid biology.

A/Prof Pébay’s work looks at human pluripotent stem cells which have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body. She is researching how these cells maintain their pluripotency (their ability to become any type of cell) and what might make them develop into eye or nerve cells. A/Prof Pébay also studies the cellular mechanisms involved in the genetic disease Friedreich Ataxia and novel ways to intervene and improve outcomes of neurotrauma.

Dr Hitesh Peshavariya

Dr Hitesh Peshavariya

BSc, MSc, PhD

Head, Oxidant Signalling

Dr Peshavariya is a biochemist with 14 years of experience in the field of oxidative stress and redox signalling pathways. He worked with a drug discovery team to discover and develop compounds to reduce apoptosis, thus protecting the neuronal cell from death. He received a NHMRC Dora Lush scholarship to commence a PhD at the Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, where he studied the role of NADPH oxidase (Nox) and its isoforms derived redox signalling in cardiovascular biology.

In 2012, he was awarded very competitive Heart Foundation post-doctoral fellowship to investigate cytoprotective and anti-fibrotic effects of prostacyclin.

His research interest includes ocular fibrosis and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Gwyneth Rees

Dr Gwyneth Rees

BSc Hons, MSc, PhD, CPsychol, MAPS

Head, Behavioural Research in Ophthalmology 

Dr Rees obtained a PhD in health psychology from the University of Edinburgh in 2003. Since 2005 she has been working at CERA. Her work focuses on the role of behavioural and psychological factors in eye disease and improving patient centred outcomes.

Dr Rees is passionate about linking psychological research to practice. She was awarded an NHMRC TRIP (Translating Research into Practice) Fellowship 2012-2014 in which she worked closely with Vision Australia to implement and evaluate problem-solving therapy for people with low vision experiencing symptoms of depression.

In 2014, Dr Rees was awarded a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship to develop her research program focused on four themes: investigating behavioural and psychological factors that contribute to the prevention and management of eye disease; developing and validating patient-centred outcome measures; developing and evaluating novel interventions to improve patient centred-outcomes; implementation research to translate evidence-based interventions into eye care services.

Ian Trounce

Associate Professor Ian Trounce

BSc, PhD

Head, Mitochondria and neurodegeneration

Ian Trounce is Principal Research Fellow in Glaucoma Research at CERA. Following his PhD studies at the University of Melbourne, he undertook postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Doug Wallace at Emory University before returning to Australia to establish his own laboratory. His research focus is on mitochondria and how defects in oxidative phosphorylation contribute to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including diseases of the optic nerve. His expertise encompasses biochemical, molecular and cell biology and genetic approaches.

CERA’s Glaucoma Research focuses on molecular pathogenesis and neuro-protection of the optic nerve in glaucoma. A/Prof Trounce supervises a research team investigating the cellular processes related to ageing and mitochondrial dysfunction that affect the vulnerability of retinal ganglion cells to injury. This work is intended to develop new therapeutic approaches for protecting the optic nerve in glaucoma. His research scope extends to other neurodegenerative diseases where mitochondrial dysfunction is strongly implicated, especially Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden

MBBS, PhD, FRANZCO

Principal Investigator, Diabetic Retinopathy & Neuroglial Interactions, Deputy Director, CERA

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden is a Principal Investigator at CERA and a Senior Clinical Fellow at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

After finishing top of his class in Medicine at Monash University, Peter moved to the Department of Ophthalmology at Flinders University, South Australia to complete his PhD in the field of retinal vascular biology. He then trained as an ophthalmologist in Victoria and became a Research Fellow at CERA.

In 2011, Peter was awarded an NHMRC Overseas Based Clinical Research Fellowship to pursue his research interests at the University of Cambridge, UK. He developed experience in regeneration of the central nervous system in multiple sclerosis, working under Professor Robin Franklin.

Returning to CERA in 2013, Peter’s research focuses on three broad areas: harnessing the power of endogenous stem cells for regeneration in multiple sclerosis, interactions between neurons and glial cells in eye disease, and diabetic retinopathy.

Dr Raymond C.B. Wong

Dr Raymond C.B. Wong

B.Biomed Sci (Hons), PhD

Head, Cellular Reprogramming

Dr Raymond Wong is a stem cell biologist specialising in cellular reprogramming. Dr Wong has more than 13 years of experience in human pluripotent stem cell research, having completed a PhD with Prof Martin Pera (Monash University) and overseas postdoctoral training in Prof Peter Donovan’s laboratory (University of California Irvine, USA) and subsequently Prof Minoru Ko’s laboratory (NIH, USA).

Dr Wong’s research has identified new methodologies to culture and generate human pluripotent stem cells, providing important steps to realise the medical potentials of human pluripotent stem cells. He currently leads the Cellular Reprogramming Group at Centre for Eye Research Australia, and is a Senior Research Fellow with the University of Melbourne.