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New CERA laboratories open as Eye & Ear Hospital redevelopment announced

2012-11-23image-tools (76)It was a significant day for the development of CERA’s research capacity yesterday with the opening of new molecular and cell culture laboratories shortly after the Premier had announced that the Victorian Government is proceeding with the long-awaited redevelopment of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

The purpose-built CERA laboratories were officially opened by the Victorian Minister for Innovation, Louise Asher. Researchers from the Glaucoma, Cytoprotection Pharmacology, Clinical Genetics and Neuroregeneration units will work in the new labs to allow CERA to undertake its groundbreaking research into new scientific directions, focussing in particular on the emerging area of vision regeneration.

CERA Managing Director Professor Jonathan Crowston said the promise of the new labs had helped attract high calibre researchers in vision regeneration science, including stem cell scientist Dr Alice Pébay and distinguished pharmacologist and tissue regeneration researcher Professor Gregory Dusting.

“We have done a lot of work over the years in preventing and treating vision loss. Now we are able to add to that well-established and successful work to include an often-neglected group – people who have already lost their sight,” said Professor Crowston.

CERA Chair Mr Peter Nankivell thanked the Minister for the Victorian Government’s ongoing support of CERA under the Innovation portfolio, including significant grants to establish a retinal imaging centre, and to fund a pilot study of a new laser treatment for age-related macular degeneration. In addition, CERA receives critical indirect cost funding on an annual basis from the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program.

Earlier in the day, Premier Ted Baillieu had announced that the Government will fulfil its election promise to fully fund a redevelopment of the Eye & Ear Hospital, the largest sub-speciality hospital in Australia.

The redevelopment is designed to improve the hospital’s layout, make access for patients and staff more user-friendly and increase capacity within the facility to meet growing demand for the Hospital’s services, allowing for an additional 7,000 patients to be treated each year.

Health Minister David Davis said the project will involve the demolition of existing buildings between the Hospital’s two tower blocks, construction of a new connecting link building and consolidation of patient focused services on five fully-integrated floors. The redevelopment will also provide purpose-built accommodation for research, teaching and training, with CERA and the University of Melbourne as core partners in the project. The new CERA laboratories will remain and will not be subject to the hospital renovation.

Once complete, the redeveloped Hospital will be a world-class facility for eye and ear health where leading edge research is integrated with health service delivery and can be readily translated into clinical use.