It is now a cliché to say, but this certainly has been a year to remember. Despite all of the issues we had this year, research continued, and our outputs and outcomes even grew. In 2020 thus far, we have published 196 journal articles. These include twenty-five in Clinical and Experimental Optometry, thirteen in Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, twelve in British Journal of Ophthalmology and seven in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.
All conferences went on-line after March, which was a challenge for scheduling, sleeping and attendance. Before lockdown began, several of us, Dr Jerome Ozkan, Dr Nicole Carnt, Ms Rabia Mobeen, Ms Zahra Tajbakhsh, Mr Hari Peguda and Mr Gauri Shrestha presented our research at the Gordon Conference on the Cornea and Ocular Surface Biology. This was held in Tuscany, Italy from 16-21st February. Nicole and I also chaired the GRC Power Hour that took place on the first day. This was designed to address issues that women face in science as well as issues of diversity and inclusion which I thought generated some great discussions. We also discovered that in the UK sending and responding to emails over the weekend is discouraged. Now, if only we could establish that practice elsewhere…
Following on from the success of Dr Nivison-Smith in the NHMRC grants, Prof Michael Kalloniatis received an Ideas grant entitled “Predicting visual function from structural data in health and ocular disease” and I was also successful in the same scheme “Tackling Hospital Acquired Infections with Peptide Mimics.” Indeed, my grant was awarded the highest score of all the 2019 Ideas grants, and for that I won the NHMRC Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award.
Prof Pesudovs joined the School through the highly competitive SHARP pathway at UNSW. He was awarded the H Barry Collin Medal for 2020. We warmly welcome him and look forward to working with him in his research areas of ophthalmic surgical outcomes, including optical, visual and patient-reported outcomes, ophthalmic epidemiology and neural adaptation.
Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton has had a stellar year. She was listed as one of the top 250 Australian Researchers in September. Scientia Prof Stapleton and Prof Michael Kalloniatis received funding to investigate the use of artificial intelligence to diagnose, manage and refer patients. Part of this funding was secured from Big Picture Medical and the CRC-P granting system.
While the above grants and awards are extremely exciting and gratifying, it is the achievements of our Early Career Researchers and PhD students that augurs well for the future of the School. Some of their achievements include the award to Dr Shyam Tummanapalli of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding PhD thesis, the 2020 William C. Ezell (Rod Tahran / Essilor) Fellowship by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation to Ms Rabia Mobeen and Promotion of Dr Jerome Ozkan to Research Fellow. We highlight their achievements on our website (https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/news-events/latest-news; https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/news-events/media-0).
So, congratulations for everyone for their hard work, resilience, and success in 2020 and congratulations to all award winners. The School continues to produce world-class research and we are looking forward to 2021 and the move to the Faculty of Medicine to see what new opportunities that brings.
The following 10 papers are some of those that we have been published as open access. We do this so you can review our work – click on the hyperlinks below to read:
- Dillon L, Clemson L, Nguyen H, Jakobsen KB, Martin J, Tinsley F, Keay L. Recipient and instructor perspectives of an adapted exercise-based fall prevention programme for adults aged 50+ years with vision impairment: a qualitative study nested within a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2020; 10(9): e038386.
- Downie LE, Hom MM, Berdy GJ, El-Harazi S, Verachtert A, Tan J, Liu H, Carlisle-Wilcox C, Simmons P, Vehige J. An artificial tear containing flaxseed oil for treating dry eye disease: A randomized controlled trial. Ocul Surf. 2020 Jan;18(1):148-157.
- Fu A, Watt K, M Junghans B, Delaveris A, Stapleton F. Prevalence of myopia among disadvantaged Australian schoolchildren: A 5-year cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2020 Aug 27;15(8):e0238122.
- Jones L, Walsh K, Willcox M, Morgan P, Nichols J. The COVID-19 pandemic: Important considerations for contact lens practitioners. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2020 Jun;43(3):196-203.
- Junghans BM, Azizoglu S, Crewther SG. Unexpectedly high prevalence of asthenopia in Australian school children identified by the CISS survey tool. BMC Ophthalmol. 2020 Oct 12;20(1):408.
- Khan M, Stapleton F, Summers S, Rice SA, Willcox MDP. Antibiotic Resistance Characteristics of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Isolated from Keratitis in Australia and India. Antibiotics (Basel). 2020 Sep 14;9(9):600.
- Tahhan N, Ford BK, Angell B, Liew G, Nazarian J, Maberly G, Mitchell P, White AJR, Keay L. Evaluating the cost and wait-times of a task-sharing model of care for diabetic eye care: a case study from Australia. BMJ Open. 2020 Oct 5;10(10):e036842.
- Tong J, Alonso-Caneiro D, Yoshioka N, Kalloniatis M, Zangerl B. Custom extraction of macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer thickness more precisely co-localizes structural measurements with visual fields test grids. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 28;10(1):18527.
- Yadav UN, Rayamajhee B, Mistry SK, Parsekar SS, Mishra SK. A Syndemic Perspective on the Management of Non-communicable Diseases Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Front Public Health. 2020 Sep 25;8:508.
- Willcox MDP, Walsh K, Nichols JJ, Morgan PB, Jones JW. The ocular surface, coronaviruses and COVID‐19. Clin Exp Optom. 2020 Jul; 103(4): 418-424.
Professor Mark Willcox,
Director of Research