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2017 Scientific Exchange – a fascinating evening of friendship, awards and dazzling science

CERA 2017 Scientific Exchange Award winners

CERA 2017 Scientific Exchange Award winners

The 7th annual CERA Scientific Exchange, held at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons on the evening of 31 May, was a wonderful opportunity to mingle with Australia’s top experts and rising stars in eye research, and to learn how their work is translating into real treatments for patients. Over 100 CERA researchers, students, staff and supporters gathered for the event.

Many award-winning posters used at international conferences over the past year were on display, including student Sloan Wang’s –best poster prize presentation at ARVO  and student Grace Lidgerwood’s – best poster talk winner from the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research.

“2016 marked 20 years of eye research at CERA,” said Managing Director, Professor Jonathan Crowston.

“We are very proud of this achievement and look to the next 20 years to bring together expertise in basic science, clinical and population health research towards an integrated program that is at the forefront of translating research into practice,” he said.

Prof Crowston reflected on CERA’s recent highlights. In April, the organisation was ranked in the top 4 for world ophthalmology research output, behind John Hopkins University, Harvard University and University College London, by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR). In December 2016, Prof Robyn Guymer and A/Prof Alex Hewitt were awarded more than $1.4 million in two major project grants from the NHMRC and received awards for prestigious fellowships.

Another important milestone was the National Eye Health Survey report released in October last year.

“This ground-breaking report was the most comprehensive eye health survey done in Australia – led by Dr Mohammed Dirani and his team,” said Prof Crowston.

Prof Crowston announced the 10, 15, 20 or 25 years of service milestones achieved by CERA staff as well as the CERA awards. For the first time, the award categories focused on the CERA values of Unity, Agility, Integrity and Making a Difference. For a full list of award recipients link here.

“We had around 30 nominations this year and I congratulate all of this year’s excellent nominees as these awards showcase the way our staff and students epitomise the CERA values and support the fabulous culture we have cultivated in our institute,” he said.

Finally, Prof Crowston announced the main award of the night, the CERA Award sponsored by Thomson Geer, recognising a person, team or initiative that has enhanced CERA as an organisation.

“The deserving winner is Robyn Guymer,” Prof Crowston said. “Robyn has had an extensive and incredibly successful career at CERA to date. Some of her most recent distinguished research outcomes include the Laser intervention in Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration (LEAD) study, the Bionic Vision Australia project and an app for testing AMD.”

“She is a great role model for all young researchers in the field, having been awarded the NHMRC’s Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship in 2016 for being the top ranked female in clinical science/medicine. She was also awarded the inaugural Australian Academy of Health Sciences Fellowship in the same year, as well as the Carolyn K McGilvray Award for AMD research from the BrightFocus Foundation.”

“Robyn is a world-renowned clinician, who is internationally sought after for her clinical expertise. While she could easily fill her working days with clinical patients, Robyn chooses to share her knowledge with CERA and is always happy to give credit to others, and make sure her colleagues are given every opportunity to succeed in their own career.”

“To many, Robyn encompasses everything that is great about working at CERA. Congratulations Robyn!” said Prof Crowston.

Thank you to all attendees and congratulations to our deserving winners.