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Principal Investigators

Affiliated with the University of MelbourneUniversity of Melbourne Logo

Professor Paul Baird

BSc Hons, PhD

Head, Ocular Genetics

Professor Paul Baird, a molecular geneticist, heads Ocular Genetics at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). He began his research career in the UK after his PhD studies at the University of London, working in the field of cancer genetics. Following senior research positions at the Hanson Centre, Adelaide and the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Paul Baird joined CERA in 2000.

Paul’s research team focuses on the identification of genes and determinants involved in several major eye diseases including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, myopia and keratoconus. He leads a group actively involved in international collaborations including international consortia researching AMD and myopia. A range of cutting edge techniques including genome wide association, genome sequencing, methylation and copy number studies are employed in the lab with the aim of personalising patient care.


Associate Professor Michael Coote


Lead Investigator

Associate Professor Michael Coote is a Lead Investigator at CERA and the Clinical Director of Ophthalmology at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

Michael has been researching surgical solutions for Glaucoma for over 20 years and is a consultant to the Glaucoma Clinic at Hospital. He has presented at local and International meetings on Glaucoma Surgery and new techniques.

Michael, with Professor Jonathan Crowston, has developed the GONE online teaching and benchmarking tool which is free and has now been translated into Spanish and Chinese. The GONE program has had over 2500 Eye Care professionals enrol and use the program – far ahead of any other teaching program in Ophthalmology.

In addition, Michael has a strong interest in Clinical Quality and Audit is the Chair of the Board Quality Committee at Mercy Health.

Jonathan Crowston

Professor Jonathan Crowston


Head, Glaucoma Research

Professor Jonathan Crowston was the Ringland Anderson Professor of Ophthalmology and Managing Director of CERA from 2009 – 2018. He undertook his ophthalmology training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and was awarded a PhD at the Institute of Ophthalmology and University College London (2000) for basic research in conjunctival wound healing. He completed a Glaucoma Fellowship at the Centre for Vision Research in Sydney, Australia, before joining the Hamilton Glaucoma Centre at University California San Diego, where he subsequently joined the faculty prior to moving to Australia in 2006.

His current research interests are focused around ageing and neuroprotection of the optic nerve. In particular the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in optic nerve vulnerability to injury. Jonathan has attracted funding the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), Australian Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (UK). He has published over 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts and co-authored two books.

Jonathan has received a number of prestigious awards for his research and recently gained the RANZCO College of Ophthalmologists Excellence in Teaching Award.


Associate Professor Mark Daniell


Head, Corneal Research

Mark Daniell is the Head of the Corneal Unit at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Associate Professor at CERA and the University of Melbourne. His main research interests are in cornea and external disease and stem cell surgery, as well as surgery of the cornea and lens.

Mark’s research at CERA is into corneal stem cell transplantation. Stem cells from various parts of the eye can be cultivated and expanded in the laboratory. Successfully transplanting these delicate cell layers requires the development of thin, transparent, biocompatible membranes. Together with collaborators at the University of Melbourne’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and at the Mawson Institute in Adelaide, Mark and his team are developing novel substrates for the transfer of stem cells into the eye.   Clinical trials into treatment of limbal stem cell failure secondary to chemical burns are due to start later this year.

His other research interest is in ocular infection. The current project is looking at innate immunity in the eye, in particular the role of mannin-binding lectin (MBL) in initiating the complement cascade







Professor Robyn Guymer AM


Head, Macular Research and Deputy Director, CERA

Robyn Guymer is Professor of Ophthalmology at Melbourne University and a Deputy Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia. She is also a senior retinal specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She is a clinician scientist who leads a team of 20 researchers primarily investigating Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

She has investigated genetic and environmental risk factors for AMD, predictors of response to treatments for late AMD, as well as being a principal investigator in many industry sponsored trials. She is on several pharmaceutical advisory boards and is part of the Mactel consortium, the Beckman/Ryan AMD initiative (USA) and the International Classification of Atrophy (CAM) group.

She is currently investigating new strategies for treating early stages of AMD with a nanosecond laser and is working to identify novel imaging and functional biomarkers and surrogate endpoints to improve the feasibility of conducting early intervention trials. She is a member of the Macular Society and an inaugural fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor Guymer was named a Member in the General Division (AM) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, recognised for her significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, particularly age related macular degeneration as a clinician, academic and researcher. She was also awarded the NHMRC’s 2016 Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship for the top ranked female research fellowship in clinical medicine.









Professor Mingguang He


Principal Investigator

Professor Mingguang He is the Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne. He undertook his medical training in China, holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and PhD in ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

Professor He is a global expert in vision-related clinical and epidemiologic research. He led several important population-based studies in China, including the first glaucoma survey and a large-scale twin study in China. He serves editorial board for several important journals, including Ophthalmology, PLoS One, Molecular Vision and APJO. He is currently the deputy secretary-general of Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

His research interests include clinical and epidemiological research, randomized clinical trials, twin studies and imaging technology. His current research priority is big data and precision medicine.

Alex Hewitt

Professor Alex Hewitt

BMedSci (Hons), MBBS, PhD

Head, Clinical Genetics

Prof Alex Hewitt is a clinician-scientist and leads Clinical Genetics at CERA. During medical training he completed a BMedSci (Hons) degree investigating the outcomes of cataract surgery for people living in remote areas of the Northern Territory. He obtained his PhD investigating the molecular and phenotypic associations for open angle glaucoma from Flinders University of South Australia in 2009. Alex completed formal Ophthalmology training at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in 2012, and then spent one year on secondment at the Lions Eye Institute in Western Australia. He returned to Melbourne in 2013 to take up the position with CERA’s Clinical Genetics.

A/Prof Lyndell Lim

Associate Professor Lyndell Lim


Head, Clinical Trials Research

A/Prof Lyndell Lim, a Uveitis and Medical Retina Subspecialist, leads the Clinical Trials Research at CERA. After completing her Ophthalmology training in Melbourne, A/Prof Lim then completed two Fellowships – one in Medical Retina at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, and one in Uveitis/Ocular Inflammatory Disease at the Casey Eye Institute, Portland, Oregon, USA.

A/Prof Lim’s main research interests are clinical studies in the field of uveitis and ocular immunology, and diabetic retinopathy. Her team runs both investigator initiated and sponsored clinical trials that aim to investigate new treatments in a variety of ophthalmic disease.

Alice Pebay

Associate Professor Alice Pébay


Head, Neuroregeneration

A/Prof Pébay leads Neuroregeneration at CERA. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience and has an extensive expertise in cell biology, including in neural cells, stem cell biology and lysophospholipid biology.

A/Prof Pébay’s work looks at human pluripotent stem cells which have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body. She is researching how these cells maintain their pluripotency (their ability to become any type of cell) and what might make them develop into eye or nerve cells. A/Prof Pébay also studies the cellular mechanisms involved in the genetic disease Friedreich Ataxia and novel ways to intervene and improve outcomes of neurotrauma.



Ian Trounce

Associate Professor Ian Trounce

BSc, PhD

Head, Mitochondria and neurodegeneration

Ian Trounce is Principal Research Fellow in Glaucoma Research at CERA. Following his PhD studies at the University of Melbourne, he undertook postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Doug Wallace at Emory University before returning to Australia to establish his own laboratory. His research focus is on mitochondria and how defects in oxidative phosphorylation contribute to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including diseases of the optic nerve. His expertise encompasses biochemical, molecular and cell biology and genetic approaches.

CERA’s Glaucoma Research focuses on molecular pathogenesis and neuro-protection of the optic nerve in glaucoma. A/Prof Trounce supervises a research team investigating the cellular processes related to ageing and mitochondrial dysfunction that affect the vulnerability of retinal ganglion cells to injury. This work is intended to develop new therapeutic approaches for protecting the optic nerve in glaucoma. His research scope extends to other neurodegenerative diseases where mitochondrial dysfunction is strongly implicated, especially Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden


Interim Managing Director, CERA & Principal Investigator, Ophthalmic Neuroscience

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden is a Principal Investigator at CERA and a consultant ophthalmologist in the medical retina clinic at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. He is the current Interim Managing Director of CERA, and has been a Deputy Director since 2017.

After completing Medicine at Monash University (1999 dux), Peter moved to the Department of Ophthalmology at Flinders University, South Australia to complete his PhD in the field of retinal vascular biology. He pursued ophthalmology training in Victoria (College medalist) before undertaking a post-doctoral research fellowship (NHMRC fellow) at the University of Cambridge, UK. He developed experience in regeneration of the central nervous system in multiple sclerosis, working under Professor Robin Franklin.

Returning to CERA in 2013, Peter’s research focuses on three key areas: novel imaging technologies to detect early markers of eye and central nervous system diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease; understanding the role played by support cells in the optic nerve and the implications that this has for the management of diseases of the optic nerve; and understanding the causes of diabetic retinopathy and identifying new avenues for treatment.

He is a Clinical Director and a founding member of Preserve Sight – a Commonwealth Government-funded national approach to diabetic retinopathy screening in Australia. Peter is also a member of the medical and research committees of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia and is the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ representative on the Vision 2020 Vision Initiative, a public health program seeking to reduce avoidable blindness in Victoria.

Dr Raymond C.B. Wong

Dr Raymond C.B. Wong

B.Biomed Sci (Hons), PhD

Head, Cellular Reprogramming

Dr Raymond Wong is a stem cell biologist specialising in cellular reprogramming. Dr Wong has more than 13 years of experience in human pluripotent stem cell research, having completed a PhD with Prof Martin Pera (Monash University) and overseas postdoctoral training in Prof Peter Donovan’s laboratory (University of California Irvine, USA) and subsequently Prof Minoru Ko’s laboratory (NIH, USA).

Dr Wong’s research has identified new methodologies to culture and generate human pluripotent stem cells, providing important steps to realise the medical potentials of human pluripotent stem cells. He currently leads the Cellular Reprogramming Group at Centre for Eye Research Australia, and is a Senior Research Fellow with the University of Melbourne.