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Michelle Gallaher to lead Cerulea eye clinical trial centre in Melbourne

Clinical trials innovator and digital health expert Ms Michelle Gallaher has been appointed the inaugural CEO of Cerulea, a new clinical trial centre to be established by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) in Melbourne.

Gallaher – a high profile health technology entrepreneur and advocate for women in STEM – will begin 5 February 2024 and lead the centre that will become a global destination for advanced ophthalmic research, including gene and cell therapies, and benefit local researchers and patients.

Prof Keith Martin. Image: CERA.

Announcing the appointment, Cerulea board chair and CERA managing director Professor Keith Martin said Gallaher brought a wealth of experience in life sciences innovation and clinical trials to her new role.

“Michelle Gallaher’s deep understanding of clinical trials, her leadership in the use of AI and digital technologies to support trial recruitment and design, and her experience as a health tech entrepreneur will be enormous assets to Cerulea,” he said.

“Her unique mix of skills and experience are a great alignment with the culture of innovation and translating research into real outcomes for patients that we have at CERA – and our vision for the new Cerulea clinical trial centre. We are excited that she will lead the development of our global hub for innovation in ophthalmic clinical research, which will increase Victorians’ access to emerging new treatments to prevent blindness and restore sight.”

Gallaher is a former Victorian Telstra Businesswoman and Entrepreneur of the Year, has launched four start-ups, and was most recently CEO and founder of health tech company Opyl Ltd.

Cerulea, a fully owned not-for-profit subsidiary of CERA, is supported by a $10 million investment from Breakthrough Victoria.

The new clinical trial centre, to be located at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, will open in 2024.

Martin said Cerulea would specialise in trialling new gene and cell therapies and other advanced therapeutics. It aims to attract international research talent and industry partnerships to Victoria and would provide opportunities for Australian vision scientists to trial their discoveries in Australia where they could benefit local patients.

Gallaher was thrilled by the opportunity to lead Cerulea, strengthening Victoria’s reputation as a leader in medical research and transforming the lives of people living with vision loss and blindness.

“Cerulea will bring together world-leading vision researchers, global industry partners and the power of digital technologies to make a real difference to the health and wealth of our community,” she said.

“Our new clinical trials centre will create jobs, generate valuable income to support vision research and increase access to sight-saving treatments for the Victorian community.”

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