Lions Eye Institute (LEI) in Perth has joined forces with The University of Western Australia (UWA) to create an inaugural endowment fund to establish a UWA Chair in Optometry Translational Research.
Both entities have committed $3 million, bringing total funding for the position to $6m. Key industry partners will also be approached for additional financial support to ensure the endowment fund and chairmanship are financially sustainable, LEI said.
The Chair in Optometry Translational Research will build a new capacity in analytics across optometry and ophthalmology.
According to the Lions Eye Institute, research will focus on new or improved methods of detecting and managing ocular disease earlier and evolving new eyecare pathways with the primary goal of reducing preventable blindness within the community by making eyecare services more accessible.
It is expected the role will be advertised in the coming months and the inaugural chair appointed for the start of the 2022 academic year.
The position will require collaboration with the existing Ian Constable Chair in Discovery and Translational Ophthalmic Science, and another newly-created role called the Lions Curtin Chair in Ophthalmic Big Data.
The Lions Curtin Chair in Ophthalmic Big Data is jointly funded by Curtin University and the Lions Save-Sight Foundation WA.
The role is underpinned by a new affiliation agreement between LEI and Curtin University, and will also be advertised in the coming months with the intention of having the chair appointed early in 2022.
According to LEI, the new Chair in Ophthalmic Big Data will provide leadership of research locally and undertake internationally competitive research.
“It will play a major role in understanding and improving eyecare systems and pushing clinical diagnostic boundaries based on large and continuous related datasets,” the institute said.
“The role will capitalise on advanced imaging technology and build artificial intelligence interpretation of screening data to improve early detection and treatment of eye disease.”
An international search for a suitable candidate for The Ian Constable Chair in Discovery and Translational Ophthalmic Science is also currently under way, with a plan to have the position filled in the new year.
The role has been developed to honour the role of LEI founding managing director and patron, Professor Ian Constable AO, in researching and treating blindness and vision loss over five decades.
This position aims to develop new techniques for earlier diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and retinal vascular diseases. Funding for the chairmanship is in place, following a dedicated fundraising drive that resulted in the commitment of several generous benefactors.