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News, Research

New eye research receives $150,000 funding

06/02/2019By Myles Hume
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Corneal disease, genetic testing and artificial intelligence are the focuses of three separate Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) projects that have received almost $150,000 in new research funding.

Dr Elaine Chong, Professor Alex Hewitt and Dr Stuart Keel were among 13 recipients recently awarded 2019 Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (OIRA) grants to help further their respective studies.

Chong ($48,899) will use the funding to develop a new treatment for corneal disease that could serve as an alternative therapy to corneal transplants. Her study will investigate whether removing the innermost layer of the cornea in patients with Fuchs’ Endothelial Dystrophy can improve vision and avoid the necessity of a full transplant.



“This research has potential to make a real difference to the lives of people living in regional and remote communities, who don’t have easy access to eye care professionals.”
Dr Stuart Keel, CERA

Hewitt ($49,846) will investigate if a gene that he has discovered plays a role in Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), the most common form of vasculitis in elderly people.  His work may lead to the development of a genetic test for the condition, enabling more timely diagnosis and intervention of the condition.

Keel’s ($49,617) research will combine artificial-intelligence-based software for the detection of diabetic retinopathy and other eye diseases with an automated portable retinal camera to allow screening in general practice settings. It is hoped this will offer a feasible and cost-effective solution for Australian GPs to perform point-of-care screening for eye disease.

“As an early-career researcher, funding from ORIA will be critical in helping me to kick-start this project. This research has potential to make a real difference to the lives of people living in regional and remote communities, who don’t have easy access to eye care professionals,” Keel told Insight.

CERA interim managing director Associate Professor Peter van Wijngaarden added: “We are delighted that three of CERA’s talented investigators will be able to advance their important research, thanks to the award of grants from the ORIA. This is a very competitive scheme that provides crucial support for high quality eye research in Australia.”

The OIRA distributed more than $640,000 in grants for 2019.

 

Image Caption: CERA researchers Dr Elaine Chong (from left), Prof Alex Hewitt and Dr Stuart Keel.

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