Ian Constable Chair

A $10,000 cheque was presented to PDG Dr Brian King in November 2017 to help fund the Ian Constable Chair in Discovery and Translational Ophthalmic Science, a new position being established at the University of Western Australia. To acknowledge the outstanding work of Professor Ian Constable for over 40 years since he came to WA, a new research professor will be recruited to work at the Lions Eye Institute. The new position will further enhance Lion’s global efforts to eliminate blindness. Lions Clubs donations will contribute towards the funding of this new position.

Brian King Fellowship

In early 2017, the prestigious Brian King Post-Doctoral Fellowship was awarded to Dr Carla Mellough to pursue her research into human retinal development and disease. She studied at the University of Western Australia and has spent the last 13 years in the United Kingdom and Spain. While overseas, Dr Mellough developed a method for making human retinal tissue in the laboratory. It is similar to growing a miniature version of the eye in a petri dish, which can be used as a tool to answer questions about human development and disease. This will help to identify therapeutic targets for currently untreatable forms of blindness, as well as generate useful cells for transplantation in patients requiring cell replacement.

The three year Fellowship is jointly funded by the Lions Eye Institute and the Lions Save-Sight Foundation. The LEI, which is affiliated with the University of Western Australia, is one of the largest multi-disciplinary eye research institutes in the world, receives funding from national and international funding bodies, and has a proven track record in the commercialisation of in-house intellectual property.

Dr Mellough said she was delighted with the opportunity to start an independent research career at the Lions Eye Institute. “There are very few centres that have this concentration of clinicians, stem, retinal and cell biologists and an ideal infrastructure which provides the perfect environment for research of this nature,” she said. “The collaborative environment of the LEI is also extremely important to me.  We need to work together if we are to find a cure for blindness”.

Jack Hoffman Scholarship

The Directors of the Lions Save-Sight Foundation have agreed to apply funds under the Jack Hoffman Scholarship programme to Dr Jelena Kezic. The scholarship support of $20,000 per annum for the 2018 and 2019 period will give Dr Kezic the opportunity to continue the research work led by Professor John Forrester to further the Lions Eye Institute’s understanding of the inflammatory ocular disease Uveitis.  Dr Kezic is an ophthalmic medical researcher with considerable expertise and a solid track record of scientific publications and procurement of funding grants. She is an ideal candidate for scholarship funds and the Lions Save-Sight Foundation is delighted to support such a worthy candidate.

Judy Glover Scholarship Programme

The Judy Glover Scholarship funded by the LSSF and Lions Clubs of WA is a great opportunity for optometry students to see eye care delivered in rural and remote Australia. The support of Lions Clubs has so far allowed exposure of 14 final year optometry students and their mentors to the needs of rural Western Australia health issues. Several of these students have joined rural practices after finishing their degrees due to this experience. Everyone of  these students have come away with a much better understanding of the eye health challenges in the bush.

Training was held at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital and Communities and the students experienced challenges of the various conditions, facilities and travel. They were also able to experience some eye conditions they have not seen before. The Lions Outback Vision Van was in Fitzroy Crossing so the students were able to spent a day in the van witnessing the eye care delivery the van brings and the benefit of reduced travel and timely Ophthalmological assessment and management of patients.

The students commented on how much the experience has expanded their view of eye care delivery and their understanding of the challenges of delivering eye care in remote outback Australia.  This experience of the difficulties faced by communities and health care professionals striving to help improve the lives of people living in remote WA is unique. The program provides an extraordinary learning experience, one they will remember and one that will help shape them into better clinicians. Students are much more likely to become involved in rural/remote eye care as a result of their participation in the program.