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PhD grad receives chancellor’s prize for role in eye health survey

A Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) PhD graduate has been awarded the University of Melbourne’s 2019 Chancellor’s Prize for his role in the National Eye Health Survey, the country’s first nationally representative survey of eye health.

In recognition of his contribution in the design and implementation of the initiative, Dr Joshua Foreman was awarded the Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis.

The accolade is said to be the most prestigious award given to PhD graduates and recognises scholarly excellence, international recognition and impact of research.

Foreman’s research findings have been used extensively by the eye health sector and have played a key role in driving changes in eye health policy and service delivery.

His findings on the eye health of Indigenous Australians and the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy have been instrumental in supporting significant national approaches to the issues.

His current research with a team at New York University and the University of California, Berkley, will explore the potential of teleophthalmology and artificial intelligence-assisted image analysis to reduce avoidable vision loss and blindness from diabetes in under-served minority communities.

“I hope to develop screening programmes and behavioural interventions that can be adapted cross-culturally to meaningfully reduce the burden of preventable vision impairment, particularly from diabetic retinopathy.”

Foreman, who is also the recipient of an NHMRC Sidney Sax Overseas Public Health and Health Services Early Career Fellowship and currently conducting research in the US, paid tribute to his time at CERA in shaping his career so far.

“The guidance that I received at CERA during my PhD journey and the numerous opportunities that manifested as a result of my work at CERA have been instrumental in developing a clear picture of my future career path,” he said.

His supervisors Dr Mo Dirani, Associate Professor Peter van Wijngaarden and Dr Stuart Keel, agreed this achievement was deserved.

On his return to Australia, he plans to apply these learnings to the design and implementation of sight-saving eye health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.