Walter and Eliza Hall Trust Scholarships

Since its establishment by Eliza Hall in 1912 with a donation of £1,000,000, The Walter & Eliza Hall Trust has been helping Australians in need.

Since its establishment by Eliza Hall in 1912 with a donation of £1,000,000, The Walter & Eliza Hall Trust has been helping Australians in need. The Walter and Eliza Hall Trust provides funding for four scholarships managed through the Public Education Foundation (PEF).

This Opportunity Scholarship program offers four scholarships – 3 x $6K and 1 x $10K for Year 12 students, attending NSW Public Schools, with a physical disability who wish to progress to tertiary education.

Applications open on 1 July and the application details are available on the PEF website www.publiceducationfoundation.org.au.

Eligiblility criteria is that a student is currently in Year 12 at a public school and intends studying part time/full time the following year;  they have a diagnosed physical disability (only) no cognitive impairment or mental illness and financially disadvantaged.

In addition, a $6,000 tertiary scholarship for a student with a physical disability is offered through The University of Sydney on behalf of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. This scholarship, along with three others offered through the University of Sydney, are managed by the University’s Scholarships and Prizes area. 

Eligibility criteria for this scholarship is that the student must be entering at least their second year of study full/part time, have a diagnosed physical disability, be a HECS funded student and financially disadvantaged.

Ideally the scholarship funds are to be utilised to support students in their studies.  This may include the purchase of assistive technologies, laptops, additional tutoring, textbooks, equipment etc etc. but may also include the cost of cabs to university etc.

 

Precision medicine the future for retinal dystrophies

In a recent paper appearing in Translational Pediatrics (Transl Pediatr 2015; 4(2):139-163), researchers from Save Sight Institute review the known disease genes of conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB), human cone and cone-rod dystrophy and lebers congenital amaurosis (LCA).

In a recent paper appearing in Translational Pediatrics (Transl Pediatr 2015; 4(2):139-163), researchers from Save Sight Institute review the known disease genes of conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB), human cone and cone-rod dystrophy and lebers congenital amaurosis (LCA).

Retinal dystrophies are degenerative diseases of the retina, commonly presenting as night or colour blindness, tunnel vision and subsequent progression to complete blindness. It is estimated that 1 in 4,000 individuals are affected, and while more than 120 genes have already been proven responsible, there remains considerable complexity in the way in which mutations present across individuals and families. Previous techniques result in a molecular diagnosis of just 10-20%.

According to A/Professor Robyn Jamieson “There is currently no cure or treatment options for patients with retinal dystrophies, only ongoing vision loss and progression in the degenerative cases.”

Researchers from Save Sight Institute are working hard to utilise emerging Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology as the first step in improving therapeutic approaches to retinal dystrophies.

Advances in gene therapy, cell replacement and retinal implant strategies offer hope to people affected by retinal dystrophies.

Gene therapy is predicted to be more effective for children diagnosed early with the condition, since intervention is likely to be more effective in patients with less advanced disease progression. For older patients, retinal implants or prosthetics (commonly referred to as ‘bionic eyes’) are an area actively being explored.

Various types of stem cells have been applied, and have demonstrated regeneration in mice with retinal diseases. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are derived from skin from the patient, reducing ethical concerns and reducing the risk of host immune system rejection. IPSCs have been differentiated to retinal cells, delivering healthy retinal cells into the diseased retina of mice, facilitating the repair and restoration of function.

Further development of iPSC applications for treating retinal dystrophies in human patients requires the use of efficient genome engineering to reverse or alter the mutation. The most promising of these technologies is the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system. Application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, in conjunction with stem cell technologies, is likely to pave the way for ‘precision medicine’ and catalyse the future understanding and treatment of genetic disease.

A/Prof Jamieson says “It is anticipated that future work will be more individualised”, offering the following example. “A patient may have a blood and skin sample collected to identify the mutation and to generate a fibroblast cell line. Once the mutation is identified, various treatment approaches can be observed in the patients own skin cells that have been changed to iPSCs and then retinal cells. Genome editing techniques are under research to correct the DNA mutation, with the aim that corrected differentiated retinal cells may be transplanted into the affected retina.”

In highly complex and diverse genetics diseases such as retinal dystrophies, where the underlying genetic cause is likely to be unique, this approach is one of the most promising avenues of future research and exploration.

To review the full published article in Translational Pediatrics please click here.

To support the work of researchers at Save Sight Institute please click here and select the ‘Inherited and Paediatric Eye Disease’ research group.

 

 

2015 Info Day for Teens and their Parents/Teachers – Registrations Open Now

Registrations are now open for Save Sight Institute’s Annual Information Day which will this year focus on teenagers and young adults and will be held on Saturday 18th July 2015 in the Sydney CBD (Y Hotel at Hyde Park).

Registrations are now open for Save Sight Institute’s Annual Information Day which will this year focus on teenagers and young adults and will be held on Saturday 18th July 2015 in the Sydney CBD (Y Hotel at Hyde Park).

Click here to register. 

Anyone with an eye disease or low vision/blindness who is aged 13-21 can attend along with their parents/carers/teachers. 

The Information Day is a great opportunity to share experiences, hear from role models, ask questions and make useful contacts. The day is free to attend, lunch and snacks included, but registrations are essential and places are strictly limited.

We have an excellent line up of speakers this year, including:

  • Graeme Innes AM – Lawyer, human rights practitioner (former Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner).
  • Donna Purcell – Diversity Manager – Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Jonathan Goehrlach – Elite para-triathlete
  • Sarah Hearst – University student
  • Matt O’Kane – IT management professional

The above group of successful blind and low vision professionals will share their experiences and ideas on how to succeed in life, and will facilitate a panel discussion about the challenges facing young people entering tertiary education and the workforce, and strategies for overcoming them to thrive as an independent and successful adult.

Also presenting on the day will be:

  • Greg Alchin – Inclusive learning design consultant (digital environments)
  • Jodie Hoger – Don’t forget to pack your undies! The secret to becoming a successful independent adult
  • Healthy Heads – Staying mentally healthy, and how to seek help
  • NDCO programme – access and participation in tertiary educaton and employment
  • Vision Australia – employment services
  • Guide Dogs NSW/ACT – getting involved: sports and recreation
  • Prof John Grigg and Prof Robyn Jamieson – Save Sight Institute – Research advances in eye health.

Register early as places are limited. Lunch is provided.

Drinks and canapes served from 4.30pm.
For further information regarding previous Information Days please visit our website: