Bionic eye teams welcome funding announcement
Dr Mohit Shivdansani (left) and PhD student Rosemary Cicione are members of the bionic vision research team at the Bionics Institute.
Bionic Vision Australia’s research program for 2014 will build on current patient tests to further develop the Wide-View and High-Acuity devices, with engineers and surgeons working through an iterative design and testing process. This work is essential preparation for the next set of patient tests with next generation devices.
The chair of the Bionic Vision Australia Board, Professor David Penington AC said: “I am delighted that after months of discussions we have achieved this positive outcome with the Australian Research Council providing an additional $8 million to secure the next stage of this important program.”
“We are learning a lot from our current patient tests with an early prototype device, but much remains to be done before we can deliver more advanced technologies to the market. With this further funding, we are well and truly on the way to delivering an end product that will have a huge impact on the lives of many people living with blindness,” Professor Penington said.
The Monash Vision Group recently unveiled the prototype Gennaris wireless device – a direct to brain bionic eye which will assist patients with a damaged optic nerve. The funding continuation will allow further development and refinement of the device ahead of patient trials next year.
The chair of the Monash Vision Group Board, Professor David de Kretser AC said: “The Monash Vision Group is delighted to hear that the Australian Research Council has agreed to extend the funding for the Monash approach to the development of a bionic eye.”
“The additional $1.9 million will enable the project to continue to move forwards in taking some very exciting science to a product that has the potential in making a substantial contribution to the vision impaired community. There has been great progress and the continued funding will facilitate progression to a completed product that has significant commercial prospects,” Professor de Kretser said.
Both groups will seek further financial support beyond 2014, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, philanthropic organisations and commercial investors. For now, researchers can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the day to day business of research and development.
The bionic eye projects are funded through the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology.