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News, Management, Tech

MDFA awards $1.3 million in research grants; presented by Governor-General

22/10/2015
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On World Sight Day (8 October) the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, announced successful grants totalling $1.3 million under the Macular Disease Foundation's Australia Research Grants Program.

The foundation has committed a total of $2.8 million to the research grants program since its inception in 2011 for research into macular degeneration, to reduce the incidence and impact of the disease.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia which primarily affects older Australians.

"Research is a journey of discovery, with the ultimate destination being a place where we can save sight. Along the way we will learn a great deal that can yield major benefit, and ultimately this knowledge will lead to a cure for macular degeneration," the foundation's chief executive officer, Ms Julie Heraghty, said.

"The foundation is proud to support Australian research and innovation. Today's grant recipients are at the forefront of scientific and technological advances and their research has real-world applications for this chronic disease.

"Over 1.15 million people show signs of this disease with thousands of older Australians having lost vision. Macular degeneration impacts their ability to drive, read and see their grandchildren's faces. The emotional, social and financial costs of this disease on the individual, their family, carers and government is enormous. Research gives us hope and can give us the answers we need."

The grants are awarded to Australian researchers for projects across a range of areas including bio-medical, nutritional, low vision/impact and lifestyle practices. The 2015 research grants include:

• Investigating the links between established environmental risk factors, such as a high fat diet and smoking, and how this may lead to the development of new diagnostics and treatments;

• Using a new diagnostic tool to better predict people at high risk of disease progression at a much earlier stage;

• The potential use of a blood test to predict or detect disease progression;

• How we can better map the optimal delivery of injections in the eye for wet macular degeneration;

• The effect of duration and frequency of treatment to support patients during their treatment journey and better guide clinicians and government in decision making; and

• Defining the barriers to improved disease management and improving the delivery of optimal clinical care by optometrists.

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This year's MDFA grants program also includes a new grant, the Blackmores Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grant.

Blackmores' managing director Australia and New Zealand, Mr David Fenlon, said: "At Blackmores, we are investing in the future health and wellbeing of all Australians. We are proud to support research which will provide a greater understanding of macular degeneration and the role that nutrition and lifestyle plays in saving sight from this disease."

Macular Disease Foundation Australia is a charity that relies on the support of the Australian community.

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