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Charity distributes more than $580,000 for ophthalmic research

01/11/2017By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
The Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (ORIA) has awarded grants totalling $584,000 in its 2018 round of project funding.

The announcements were made at the not-for-profit’s annual general meeting on Sunday, which was held in Perth as part of RANZCO’s 49th Annual Scientific Congress. Grants were awarded to a variety of projects, including research into retinal gene therapy, eyedrops that limit short-sightedness in children, and a new native scaffold for corneal epithelial regeneration.

The 12 successful recipients were selected from a field of 52 potential applicants, following a rigorous process which ORIA honourary treasurer Associate Professor Paul Healey said was becoming increasingly difficult.


“Our seed grants get these researchers established, which then allows them to attract much bigger grants and go on to develop fantastic teams that are developing new cures for blindness in Australia.”
Associate Professor Paul Healey

“The feedback that we get every year is that the quality of the grants continue to increase, and that the ones we’re funding are at the very highest level,” he said.

“When we look back at the projects we’ve funded over the years, a great number of them have led to major teams around Australia doing absolutely fabulous, groundbreaking research which is right at the top in terms of world’s best quality.”

Healey also pointed out that many of the grants awarded by ORIA go towards supporting new investigators, who traditionally struggle to attract larger government grants.

“We focus very much on early development and novel ideas to try and give a lot of the future leaders in ophthalmic and vision research an early break to get them going,” he said.

“Our seed grants get these researchers established, which then allows them to attract much bigger grants and go on to develop fantastic teams that are developing new cures for blindness in Australia.”

ORIA does not receive government support and all of its funding for ophthalmic research comes from public donations. Healey stressed the importance of recognising these donors, and also highlighted the fact that all of the proceeds go toward supporting eye research in Australia.

“The great thing about ORIA is all the costs involved in running it are paid for by all the ophthalmologists in Australia every year, all the research committee members and board members do all their work for free,” he said.

“That’s really important. When you’re making a donation to a charity you want to know that the money ends up in the place you want it to go, and that happens 100% of the time with ORIA.

“In celebrating the doctors that have received these awards, we should also celebrate those people whose the grants are named after, because without them we wouldn’t have the money to support these researchers in the first place,” he added.

“Some of them are ophthalmologists, but most of them are just ordinary people who wanted to make a difference.”

RECIPIENTS

ORIA/ESME ANDERSON GRANT

Dr Isabel Lopez Sanchez & A/Prof Ian Trounce

Therapeutic transcriptomic biomarkers in LHON

$43,500

 

ORIA/HARDIE ANSELMI BEQUEST GRANT

Dr Thomas Edwards & Dr Doron Hickey

A pre-clinical gene therapy study for Bietti crystalline dystrophy

$49,500

 

ORIA/RICHARD AND INA HUMBLEY FOUNDATION GRANT

Dr Raymond Wong & Dr Samuel Lukowski

Building a reference transcriptomic atlas for the human retina at a single cell level

$50,000

 

ORIA NEW INVESTIGATOR GRANT

Dr Antony Clark

Eye drops to limit short-sightedness in children

$50,000

 

ORIA/R & L LOWE GRANT

Prof David Mackey & Ms Lisa Kearns

Establishing risk of vision loss in Leber hereditary optic neuropathy families

$49,500

 

ORIA NEW INVESTIGATOR/MARY TILDEN BEQUEST GRANT

Dr Flora Hui

Does NAD+ repletion with nicotinamide produce short-term improvement in visual function in early glaucoma?

$46,500

 

ORIA/IVY MAY STEPHENSON GRANT

Prof N Di Girolamo

A novel native scaffold for corneal epithelial regeneration

$49,500

 

ORIA GRANT

Prof Robyn Jamieson, De Leszek Lisowski, A/Prof John Grigg, A/Prof Ulrike Grünert &

A/Prof Michele Madigan

Retinal gene therapy delivery: Best route, right place

$50,000

 

ORIA/MARY TILDEN BEQUEST GRANT

Prof Jamie Craig, Dr Mona Awadalla & A/Prof John Landers Intraocular pressure variation around the clock in Glaucoma

$47,500

 

ORIA GRANT

Dr Elin Gray, Dr Tim Isaacs & Prof Mel Ziman

Liquid Biopsy for Prognosis of Uveal Melanoma

$49,500

 

ORIA NEW INVESTIGATOR GRANT

Dr Yu Xiang George Kong

Monitoring of Visual Fields at Home Using a Portable Tablet Device

$48,500

 

ORIA/RANZCO NSW BRANCH GRANT

Dr Weiyong Shen & Prof Mark Gillies

Consequences of genetically disrupting serine/glycine metabolism in the retina

$50,000

 



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