Hope in sight for vision research
In their message to our supporters, Managing Director Professor Keith Martin and Chair Olivia Hilton reflect that the unprecedented events of early 2020 – catastrophic Australian bushfires and the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – have created personal and economic hardship throughout our community.
“Now we are all trying to navigate our way in a much more uncertain world.
“Despite these challenges CERA remains committed to working towards our goal of a world free from vision loss and blindness.
“The theme of our 2019 Annual Review is Hope in sight. This reflects our optimism that despite the traumatic events of 2020, our research can make lives better for people experiencing vision loss and blindness.
“In 2019, as we set our new Strategy, we were excited by the many possibilities offered by new technology and research.
“Advances in gene and cell therapy and the increasing sophistication of devices like the bionic eye are offering new hope for patients with conditions that were previously considered untreatable.
“Big data, artificial intelligence and the incredible power of new imaging technology is giving us exciting new tools to understand eye health, diagnose disease earlier and prevent blindness.
“The idea of restoring lost sight – once considered the realm of science fiction – is now a real possibility.’’
Our research impact
The Annual Review highlights the key role of philanthropy in supporting our research, and also enabling our scientists to do the early work essential for success in nationally competitive grant applications.
Major achievements from 2019 include:
- The development of the world’s most detailed genetic map of the human retina, providing new insights that will help future research to treat and prevent blindness.
- A collaboration with the Nganampa Aboriginal Health Service and The Fred Hollows Foundation to trial artificial intelligence screening tools in remote Indigenous communities
- A leading role in an Australian partnership that identified new genes associated with glaucoma which could lead to a new screening test
- World-first research that showed a simple eye test could be used to detect the early signs that suggest Alzheimer’s disease.
COVID-19 and the importance of medical research
Professor Martin and Ms Hilton express their gratitude to the many individual donors, philanthropic trusts and foundations that supported CERA in 2019.
“We are humbled by their ongoing support during troubled times in 2020.
“We are also incredibly proud to be part of a thriving biomedical precinct in Melbourne, with many of our colleagues playing a key role in research to combat COVID-19.
“Their work highlights the critical role of medical research in bringing hope and solving global health problems.’’
You can read Professor Martin and Ms Hilton’s full message to supporters and stories about our research in Hope in sight: Annual Review 2019.