Eye researchers acknowledged in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Two of CERA’s longest-serving staff members have been acknowledged in the 2018 Queens Birthday Honours List.


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Deputy Director Professor Robyn Guymer was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of her significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, particularly age-related macular degeneration as a clinician, academic and researcher.

“The award recognises more than 20 years of persistent focus on a disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and indeed recognises a whole team of researchers who together have improved outcomes for people with this disease,” said Professor Guymer.

AMD is a degenerative disease that affects the central area of the retina called the macula. One in seven people over 50 are affected by AMD.

“In AMD, the part of the body affected is only a few millimetres in area but it is clearly very important area affected it really impacts on quality of life. Despite winning the award, we will still continue our research to improve our understanding and treatment of this disease,” said Professor Guymer.

Dr Graeme Pollock received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of his contribution to corneal research and the development of the world’s first post-graduate course in eye-banking at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Pollock OAM helped establish the Lions Eye Donation Service at the University of Melbourne Department of Ophthalmology, which is based at The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, in 1991, with the support of then-Head of Department, Professor Hugh Taylor AC. CERA was later established by Professor Taylor in 1996 as the Department of Ophthalmology grew and evolved.

“Being part of a university and research institute such as CERA is a key factor in the success of the Lions Eye Donation Service. It supports innovation and allows for a faster uptake of new techniques,” said Dr Pollock.

Dr Pollock started his science career working as a research assistant in a transplant research group in Brisbane – but it wasn’t corneal transplant research; it was kidney. He went on to complete a PhD in transplant research, including time spent at Cambridge University.

For 27 years, Dr Pollock has led the Lions Eye Donation Service, turning it from a small team into one of the largest provider of corneas in Australia. “I’d like to think that through my leadership nationally, we’ve established one of the best corneal transplantation services anywhere in the world – perhaps even the best in the world,” Dr Pollock said.

Together with colleagues at CERA and the University of Melbourne, Dr Pollock developed the first post-graduate course in eye-banking in the world. He also established the internationally-recognized Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations (GAEBA) to provide peer and professional support, knowledge exchange, advocacy, vigilance, surveillance, and research and continual education opportunities for eye bankers around the world.

Dr Pollock said he was surprised and honoured to receive the award. “It’s always been rewarding to work in a field that can make so much difference to people’s lives and wellbeing. To receive a reward in recognition of such work is both a surprise and a wonderful added bonus. I also have to be grateful for always being part of a committed and competent team at work, and always the support of my family and friends.”

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