Dr Joshua Foreman from Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) has been awarded the University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence in the PhD thesis. The Chancellor’s Prize is the most prestigious award given to PhD graduates at the University of Melbourne. The award recognises scholarly excellence, international recognition and impact of the research.
Dr Foreman’s thesis, ‘The prevalence and causes of vision impairment and blindness in Australia: the National Eye Health Survey’ contextualises the findings of the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), the first nationally representative survey of eye health in Australia.
During his PhD research at CERA, Dr Foreman played a key role in the design and implementation of the NEHS. His supervisory team at CERA, Dr Mohamed Dirani, Dr Stuart Keel and Associate Professor Peter van Wijngaarden, agreed that Dr Foreman has been an exceptional PhD scholar and this achievement is well-deserved.
I have every confidence that Joshua will follow in the footsteps of Professor Hugh Taylor
“Dr Foreman is an exemplar of the values of integrity, respect, compassion and accountability that lie at the heart of the University,” said Associate Professor van Wijngaarden, Deputy Director at CERA. “I have every confidence that Joshua will follow in the footsteps of Professor Hugh Taylor, to make enduring contributions to Indigenous eye health and ophthalmic epidemiology.”
Impact of the NEHS
The NEHS, led by Dr Mohamed Dirani, has provided unparalleled insights into the eye health of the nation, and is widely regarded as a cornerstone of contemporary ophthalmic epidemiology in Australia and internationally.
This major undertaking involved recruiting, interviewing and clinically examining 1,738 Indigenous Australians and 3,098 non-Indigenous Australians from 30 randomly selected sites across the country.
Since the completion of data collection in April 2016, Dr Foreman has published 27 peer reviewed journal articles on the results of the NEHS. On 14 of these publications, he was the first author.
Dr Foreman’s research findings have been used extensively by the eye health sector, and have played a key role in driving changes in eye health policy and service delivery. In particular, his findings on the eye health of Indigenous Australians and the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in Australia have been instrumental in supporting significant national approaches to the issues.
His contribution has also had a global impact.
“The National Eye Health Survey study design, and in particular Joshua’s population sampling methods, are being used as the basis for national eye health surveys in the United Kingdom and elsewhere,” said Associate Professor van Wijngaarden.
As the recipient of an NHMRC Sidney Sax Overseas Early Career Fellowship, Dr Foreman will soon commence ground-breaking research with a team at New York University and UC Berkeley. This work will explore the potential of teleophthalmology and artificial intelligence-assisted image analysis to reduce avoidable vision loss and blindness from diabetes in under-served minority communities.
The research builds on Dr Foreman’s commitment to improving the eye health of indigenous and under-served communities around the world. On his return to Australia, he will apply these learnings to the design and implementation of sight-saving eye health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.