Over 20 years, Peter Clemenger AO has helped bring ground-breaking research to life. His philanthropic support is now helping write the next chapter in CERA’s history.
From helming one of the country’s leading advertising agencies to helping establish Melbourne as a home for international events, Peter Clemenger AO has left an indelible mark on the city.
The Joan and Peter Clemenger Foundation can also be credited for supporting CERA’s development as a world-leading research institute.
“I think it’s nice to be involved and help, in a small way, with organisations that are benefiting other people,” says Peter.
“And this one happens to be pretty damned important.”
The Clemenger Foundation helped support infrastructure that was critical to CERA’s induced pluripotent stem cell (IPS) research.
He is now making a significant contribution to CERA’s future.
Peter’s support of CERA is personal.
When he was four, he lost vision in his left eye after his brother accidentally struck him with a spade.
“This has given me more than a passing sympathy for people with eye problems,” says Peter.
“Joan received injections every two or three months for around 20 years,” says Peter.
“It’s been a long-lasting bond between our family and the Centre for Eye Research Australia.”
Peter’s support purchased a stem cell robot able to automate labour-intensive parts of generating induced pluripotent stem cells – and accelerate the volume of work that could be done.
The device played a foundational role in research published by CERA’s Principal Investigator, Clinical Genetics, Professor Alex Hewitt in 2022, which identified unique genetic signatures of AMD and glaucoma.
“We have been building a program of stem cell studies to model disease at a very large scale,” says Professor Hewitt.
“This work is the culmination of contributions from many research teams around Australia, and we are grateful for our close collaborations, particularly with Professor Alice Pébay AM, who is based at the University of Melbourne and Professor Joseph Powell from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.”
Looking ahead, Peter has committed to supporting CERA through a multi-year gift towards the organisation’s future growth. He says that supporting such a world-leading institution right here in Melbourne is an important choice.
“We’re happy to support CERA as one of the foremost eye research institutions in the world,” says Peter.
“And the fact that CERA is so highly regarded in the world and is contributing so much to research gives us great confidence to continue supporting various activities.”
CERA Managing Director Professor Keith Martin says philanthropic contributions such as Peter’s have a tremendous impact.
“Peter has already had a remarkable impact on our research, and we’re very grateful for his ongoing support.
“We’re all excited about what his support will allow us to achieve.”
And Peter takes great pride in the support he is able to give.
“I was taught at a very young age that giving is better than receiving,” says Peter.
“And although our trust has been wound up, I plan to continue supporting various organisations while I’m still alive.
“Among those is CERA – long may it continue.”
This article first appeared in See the future: Annual Review 2022.