Glaucoma Australia will award AU$200,000 in the second round of its Glaucoma Research Grants Program funded by the William A Quinlivan Research Fund. It is anticipated that individual grants of $50,000 – $100,000 per annum will be awarded for projects up to three years in duration. Seed fund grants could be used to apply for further funding with the National Health and Medical Research Council or other agencies.
The William A Quinlivan Research Fund was established in 2006 by Marcus Quinlivan in honour of his father and now has over $1.8M in assets. Since the fund’s inception, Glaucoma Australia has committed $1,024,783.00 to support Australian glaucoma researchers. Most recently, grants have been awarded to Dr George Kong from the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Professor Jamie Craig from Flinders University.
WORLD FIRST TRIAL FINDS HOME TESTING ENRICHES KNOWLEDGE
Dr Kong’s translational research project examines the validity of home monitoring using the world’s first software app on tablet devices for glaucoma patients. The software, Melbourne Rapid Fields, is designed to allow self-directed visual field testing by following simple computer voice guidance.
To date, Dr Kong has recruited over 60 patients for this study and some patients have completed 12 months of monitoring. His study showed that after a short learning curve, the visual field results obtained from home testing correlate strongly with test results performed in clinic. Importantly, during the COVID-19 period, all participants were able to continue the study uninterrupted.
The results from visual field monitoring provide enriched information for doctors during telehealth consultations about their patient’s vision. It is hoped this research could lead to earlier detection of glaucoma progression compared to standard clinic visits, allowing those most in need to receive specialist treatment in a timely manner, thereby increasing the likelihood of preserving sight for more patients with glaucoma.
RISK PROFILING ADVANCES
Professor Jamie Craig’s work aims to improve prediction of glaucoma for every Australian who will develop the disease, with a view to achieving a paradigm shift in the way glaucoma is prevented.
Professor Craig’s work forms the basis for an ongoing vision over the next five years to ensure population level screening for glaucoma is achieved in a cost-effective manner. He aims to provide evidence which drives early intervention to the highest risk individuals before vision loss occurs. This is expected to grow into a national study, achieving Medical Research Future Fund support, provided pilot data is favourable and a suitable partner is acquired.
Professor Craig said, “We have recently made major advances in the field of risk profiling for glaucoma, showing that common genetic markers in the form of a Glaucoma Polygenic Risk Score (GPRS) can predict an individual’s likelihood of developing glaucoma. Glaucoma is highly heritable, so knowledge of a family history has enabled us to reach relatives of individuals with glaucoma who are 23–56% at risk of getting the disease.”
GOVERNOR-GENERAL ACKNOWLEDGES PROGRESS
Patron of Glaucoma Australia, the Governor- General of Australia, His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley, said he was delighted to see Glaucoma Australia’s commitment to funding and supporting high quality glaucoma research in Australia.
“I recently had the pleasure of meeting 2019 grant recipient Professor Jamie Craig at the Glaucoma Australia Patient Symposium during World Glaucoma Week. Professor Craig not only examined my eyes for the tell-tale signs of glaucoma, he also spoke to me about the research he and his team are conducting at Flinders University which is supported by funding from Glaucoma Australia. His work in the field of genetic research to better predict an individual’s likelihood of developing the disease is at the forefront of early detection efforts.
“The Glaucoma Australia Research Grants Program has also allowed Dr George Kong’s team from the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital to look into innovative telehealth technology that helps patients with glaucoma to monitor their own visual field at home. This technology will especially benefit patients living in rural and remote locations, who would otherwise need to travel long distances for specialist care.
“Both of these projects will improve the lives of people with glaucoma through better detection and treatment, and I look forward to announcing the 2020 grant recipients alongside Glaucoma Australia CEO Mrs Annie Gibbins on World Sight Day in October.”
GRANT APPLICATIONS CLOSE 10 AUGUST
Grant applications for research commencing in 2021 close on 10 August 2020. To apply, visit www.glaucoma.org.au/about-us/ research-grants-program.
For further information, contact (AUS) 1800 500 880 or [email protected].
To make a tax deductible donation online, visit www.glaucoma.org.au/donation or text SIGHT to 0400 662 662.