Professor Jill Keeffe OAM has stepped down as Head of the Centre for Eye Research Australia’s (CERA) Population Health Unit.
Professor Keeffe has worked at the University of Melbourne Department of Ophthalmology and CERA for the past 25 years. She was recognised for her significant achievements in the field of eye research in 2007, when she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for ‘services to public health particularly in the area of vision testing and as a contributor to the advancement of eye care education and practice’.
One of those significant achievements was to develop a low vision kit for developing countries, a project she worked on during her time at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Ophthalmology. “The aim
was to design a kit that could be used to assess low vision in any country in the world, was small and light enough to fit into an envelope for ease of transport, and was affordable,” she said.
The kit tested distance, near vision and refractive error and was trialled in 36 countries. It was published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), initially in English, French and Chinese. “It’s still used to this day and has now been translated into 11 languages that I’m aware of,” said Prof. Keeffe.
I’m proud when I see people I’ve trained excelling…
Reflecting on her 25 years with the Department of Ophthalmology, and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), Professor Keeffe said she has many fond memories. “It’s been fantastic. I’ve had some incredible opportunities. As a Department and as CERA, we’ve taken a leading role in eye health programs throughout the world.”
The Department of Ophthalmology was designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Prevention of Blindness in 1992, the only such Centre in Australia. “The Centre’s role is to lead training and research for prevention of blindness in our region, with a particular focus on supporting developing countries,” said Prof. Keeffe, who became Director of the Centre in 2007.
She said her proudest achievement is seeing the many students she’s mentored become leaders in their field. “I’m proud when I see people I’ve trained excelling. I’m delighted when I see students coming from overseas to do their Masters or PhD and then going back to their own countries, to contribute and start improving things.”
Professor Keeffe has taken on an honorary appointment with the Department of Ophthalmology and will continue to play an active role as supervisor to a number of research students.
CERA and the University of Melbourne Department of Ophthalmology have publicly expressed their deep appreciation to Jill for her enormous contribution to eye health research over the past 25 years.