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LEI and Monash Uni partnership sealed with new appointment

21/11/2018By Myles Hume
The Lions Eye Institute (LEI) and Monash University have established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) focused on increasing collaboration between West Australian and Victorian researchers.

The MoU was sealed by the appointment of LEI’s director of research, Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti, to Monash’s newly-formed Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI). Degli-Esposti will continue her work in immunology at the BDI next year, while retaining a research group at LEI.

“Over the past 15 years, LEI has provided a great environment for our discovery research, as well as our translational research efforts. I have worked with many talented people and I look forward to maintaining my interactions with them and LEI,” Degli-Esposti said.

“I am grateful to Monash BDI and LEI for allowing me to create this new link. It will capitalise on the strengths of the two organisations and create a unique momentum for both immunology and vision research.”

This move will result in major benefits to eye research that will eventually translate to significant benefits to people suffering eye disease and vision loss.”
David Mackey, LEI

In October, Degli-Esposti was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2017, she was named the Cancer Council WA’s Researcher of the Year, after she exposed viral complications following bone marrow transplantation.

Under her 15 years of leadership, LEI’s Experimental Immunology Unit has made several major contributions including; demonstrating the safety of ocular gene therapy in animal models and in a world-first clinical trial for treating macular degeneration; and discovering that cytomegalovirus virus triggered long lasting inflammation in the eyes, including the neural retina, of hosts with healthy immune systems.

LEI managing director Professor David Mackey, who is also stepping down from his position next year, said Degli-Esposti had built and overseen a world-class research team at the institute.

“We believe this move will result in major benefits to eye research that will eventually translate to significant benefits to people suffering eye disease and vision loss,” Mackey said.

Monash BDI opened in November 2016 and now consists of more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. They are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partnerships with industry, clinicians and researchers.

Professor John Carroll, BDI director and Dean of Biomedical Sciences at Monash, said the appointment would bring new capability to the university.

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“She is a world-renowned immunologist and an expert in the field of viral immunity. She brings expertise and vision that will further boost cutting edge immunology research at the Monash BDI,” he said.

“The MoU with LEI will also provide new opportunities for further collaborative research ventures between the two organisations.”

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