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Bayer Fellowship brings research into focus

Dr Rathika Kandasamy

Dr Rathika Kandasamy

Ophthalmology registrar Dr Rathika Kandasamy never seriously considered a career in research until an inspiring experience as the 2017 Bayer Fellow at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).

Over the course of her fellowship, under the guidance of Associate Professor Lyndell Lim and Professor Robyn Guymer, Dr Kandasamy worked on a number of ongoing CERA trials, collected data, wrote up results, examined trial patients and administered treatments. She contributed to research papers and gave presentations.

As a clinician, she was intrigued by the possibility of research but never had the opportunity, other than the thesis she published as part of her post-graduate training.

“I was keen to get more experience if I could and when this opportunity from Bayer came along it enabled me to do a lot more hands-on research,” Dr Kandasamy said.

“It was great because I felt I had participated in some of the trials that could make a change.

“As one of the researchers who examined these patients and gave them the treatments, you are a part of the research that potentially may shape the future of ophthalmology. That’s pretty amazing.”

Most exciting for Dr Kandasamy was CERA’s research into Geographic Atrophy (GA) – a condition for which there are currently no effective treatments. She described the research program as ‘the next frontier’ in the battle against GA, which can affect patients with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.

As a doctor, she has frequently told patients with GA that unfortunately there was no proven treatment available to either improve their condition or even halt the progression of their vision loss.

“I’m inspired as a clinician to help patients so it’s hard when we don’t have something significant that works,” she said.

Dr Kandasamy was amazed at the breadth of research work being done at CERA and would love an opportunity to revisit research work in the future.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity from Bayer,” she said. “Overall, it was an experience that surpassed my expectations.

“Prior to this, I had not considered a career as a clinician/researcher but I would now seriously consider it as an option.

“I would always want to treat patients but I would also love to do something that contributes to the broader pool of knowledge.”


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