The Macular Degeneration Foundation celebrated its 10-year anniversary with its single largest research commitment – the establishment of the Macular Degeneration Foundation Research Grants Program. The Program aims to raise AUD$10 million over the next 10 years to help find a cure for blindness from the disease.
The announcement was made at a gala dinner in Sydney, which marked the beginning of Macular Degeneration Awareness Week (22-28 May).
Making the announcement, the Foundation’s CEO Julie Heraghty said, “We have taken up the challenge to find the reasons and answers for this disease with an initial research allocation of AUD$1.5 million over the next three years. In addition, an annual AUD$40,000 postdoctoral fellowship will be awarded in honour of Dr. Paul Beaumont, the Foundation’s Founding Director.
“This announcement marks a milestone for research and takes us a step closer to finding a cure. We need to see a future without Macular Degeneration. Government, the Macular Degeneration Foundation and the community need to support investment in research because, as our population quickly ages, very soon everyone will know someone who is at risk of blindness from this disease,” she added.
This announcement marks a milestone for research and takes us a step closer to finding a cure
Leading business woman, journalist, author and Patron of the Macular Degeneration Foundation, Ms. Ita Buttrose spoke at the dinner: “In the last 10 years the Foundation has achieved so much in building awareness about the importance of people having their eyes tested and macula checked on a regular basis, and about the positive benefits of nutrition and lifestyle as a preventative step to getting the disease.”
In February 2007 statistics suggested that 58 per cent of people aged 50 and over were aware of MD. In 2011 this number is believed to have increased to 85 per cent.
Founding director and leading Australian retina specialist Dr. Paul Beaumont said that over the past decade significant advances have been made in better diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.
“I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime to say to a patient that I could save their vision. It has been only through research that we have been able to do this and now further research may help us realise the dream – to find a cure,” said Dr. Beaumont.
The NSW Minister for Health and Research Hon. Jillian Skinner MP, presented the 2011 MD Foundation Research Grants Programme. She said the programme commits a grant of AUD$260,000 for research into the eye disease by successful applicants, including a liberty to increase the amount to its maximum level of AUD$750,000 over a three-year period.