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They still call CERA home

image-toolsTwo promising young researchers have returned to take up senior research positions at their old stomping ground, the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden (right) is an ophthalmologist and research fellow with an interest in retinal diseases. Dr van Wijngaarden finished dux of his class at medical school, and achieved the top score in his entrance exam to the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology in 2009.

He has recently returned from a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge in the UK, where he was investigating the potential of stem cells in the nervous system to help repair damaged nerves in people with multiple sclerosis.

At CERA, Dr van Wijngaarden will continue to work in this field, while focussing on the potential for stem cell therapies to restore sight in people with retinal diseases.

“Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness worldwide and it is on the rise. Our research looks at new ways of treating people with diabetes who have unfortunately lost some of their vision,” said Dr van Wijngaarden.

Another alumnus, Dr Mohamed Dirani (left), has returned to CERA to take on a newly created position leading evaluative research and health services.

Dr Dirani completed his PhD in genetic epidemiology in 2007, working with CERA’s Ocular Genetics unit. Following this, he undertook successful post-doctoral research fellow positions in the Health Services unit at CERA and at the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

In mid-2011, Dr Dirani decided to take a break from research. During the past two years, he has explored the corporate world, gaining valuable insights into business development, mentorship programs and contributing to the development of a handful of companies.

“I am very excited to be part of CERA’s team and look forward to contributing to its rapidly growing profile,” he said. “One of my key roles will focus on evaluating programs, screening models and interventions in eye health care – particularly in diabetic retinopathy – to help achieve the best possible outcomes for patients.”