Associate Professor Penelope Allen

Head of Bionic Eye Project/Vitreoretinal Research

Associate Professor Penelope Allen leads CERA’s bionic eye team, which has developed a next-generation suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis that is now in trial.

Associate Professor Penelope Allen

Head of Bionic Eye Project/Vitreoretinal Research


Associate Professor Penelope Allen is a Principal Investigator at CERA and the Head of Bionic Eye/Vitreoretinal Research.

She received a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1986 from the University of Melbourne and specialised in ophthalmology. She then sub-specialised in vitreoretinal surgery and medical retina, completing fellowships at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

A/Prof Allen was the lead surgeon for Bionic Vision Australia and has a clinical appointment at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She holds an honorary research associate position with the Bionics Institute.

She was a PI on the Australian Research Council (ARC) through its Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology grant to Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) and has ongoing research support from the NHMRC, ORIA and the CASS foundation. She is the co-recipient of an NHMRC excellence award.

A/Prof Allen was key to the developing the surgical technique for the suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis, resulting in the first clinical trial of this device in three human patients. This collaboration has resulted in two licenced patents. Acknowledgement of this was her inclusion in the shortlist for an Australian Eureka prize for interdisciplinary research.

A/Prof Allen’s research and publications on endophthalmitis have resulted in the development of protocols for the management of endophthalmitis at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and also resulted in a strategy to reduce the incidence of endogenous endophthalmitis in injecting drug users that was utilised across Victoria. In addition, she was asked to advise regarding the endophthalmitis guidelines for the Epworth Hospital.

A/Prof Allen has been on the organising committee of three national conferences and is on the organising committee for WOC 2022. She has been the invited session chair for a retinal prosthesis session at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in the US and invited speaker at APAO, Euretina and APVRS.

She has presented over 50 other conference posters and talks and has published more than 70 peer reviewed journal articles and written three book chapters.

A/Prof Allen is member of five professional associations including the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the Retina Society.

Key research questions
  • Does use of a retinal prosthesis at home result in better outcomes for patients?
  • Can we delay photoreceptor loss in retinal dystrophy?
  • Can we improve visual outcomes for patients with endophthalmitis?
  • Are some patients at risk for endophthalmitis?
  • Can we improve outcomes for retinal detachments patients?

Current projects

Selected publications

My team

Key collaborators

Funding and support

Current projects

  • 44 channel suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis clinical study NCT03406416
  • Development of a neuroprotective device to slow retinal degeneration.
  • Cadaver and theatre studies examining vitreoretinal surgery as aerosol generating procedures in the setting of Covid 19.
  • Phase 1 assessment of safety, tolerability, PK and ocular PD of ONL-1204 in patients with RRD – first in human peptide for improving outcomes in macular off retinal detachment NCT03780972
  • MacTel Phase 3 Renexus (NT-501) Trial Testing the safety and efficacy of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) in participants with macular telangectasia type 2 (MacTel) in a Phase 3 clinical trial. NCT03071965
  • Inherited retinal disease studies including Nacuity, Gyroscope, Natural history study of inherited retinal disease
  • A Prospective, Multi-Center, Open-Label Clinical Study to Evaluate the Safety and Feasibility of Using the OcuDyne Ophthalmic Micro Balloon Angioplasty System in the Treatment of Non-Exudative Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
  • Victorian Endophthalmitis Registry
  • EXPLORE: A Phase 2, outcomes assessor-masked, multicentre, randomised study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of two doses of GT005 administered as a single subretinal injection in subjects with Geographic Atrophy secondary to AMD

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