Donors’ gifts lead to federal government grant for corneal research

All Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation donors should feel a huge degree of satisfaction over the Federal Government grant of almost $1 million last month to ground-breaking research in the battle against corneal disease and blindness.

Sharn Dowsett (Manager, Clinical Governance & Quality – NSW OTDS) Danielle Fisher (General Manager – NSW OTDS), Professor Gerard Sutton, Amy Deller (Manager, Clinical Govern

Sharn Dowsett (Manager, Clinical Governance & Quality – NSW OTDS) Danielle Fisher (General Manager – NSW OTDS), Professor Gerard Sutton, Amy Deller (Manager Clinical Governance & Quality)

According to Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Linda Fagan the charity’s funding of $480,000 helped progress the urgent need for the research conducted by Professor Gerard Sutton and his team from the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong, The University of Melbourne and Centre for Eye Research and Queensland University of Technology.

The team was awarded the grant for the Australian Corneal Bioengineering: Novel Therapies to Fight Blindness project under the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund Frontier Grants Programme.

It will create opportunities for researcher collaborations to explore bold and innovative ideas and make discoveries of great potential and global impact. This will allow the team to continue towards the goal of producing a bioengineered cornea, thus reducing reliance on donated corneas.

Corneal disease is the third most common cause of blindness among all age groups and the leading cause of unilateral blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The research project, started at Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital to develop a bio-engineered cornea, has to date resulted in the prototype developments of several potential treatments to prevent blindness.

Linda said: “Our congratulations are extended to Professor Sutton and the entire research team for being awarded this prestigious funding which has the potential to help millions of corneal patients worldwide.”

Professor Sutton is an Ophthalmic surgeon, Medical Director of the NSW Tissue Bank, and lead researcher. He is excited by the funding injection and potential new treatments for patients needing corneal transplants.

“Our journey has had many challenges but with some exciting treatments in the pipeline.”

“As always nothing of any significance is ever achieved without teamwork and we have been fortunate to have had the support and encouragement from the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation.

“Without the Foundation our research would not be where it is today,” he said.