Summer Research Students 2017: Cultivating an Eye for Ocular Cell Biology and Pathology

During the summer, undergraduate students have been involved in a short research program at the SSI Laboratories under the guidance and supervision of Associate Professor Michele Madigan. This provides an introduction to eye cell biology and pathology, with basic research skills and participation in laboratory-based eye research.

The students have been learning about various aspects of eye research including gross and microscopic eye anatomy, tissue dissection, paraffin embedding and sectioning, histochemistry and immunohistochemistry staining. Digital imaging, light microscopy and confocal microscopy of eye tissues and cells have been highlighted. This has included examining human iris and choroid naevi (pigmented spots – like freckles – in the eye) and different types of peripheral retinal degenerations.

As well, students explored aspects of how to grow in culture primary eye melanocytes (pigmented cells in the eye that absorb light) in tissue culture, as part of the ongoing eye tumour projects in the laboratory.

The Lions NSW Eye Bank (Raj Devashayam; NSW Organ and Tissue Donor Service) provided a comprehensive overview of how corneas are prepared for transplant and learn about how corneas for transplantation are assessed and prepared

The 2017 research student team comprised: Reena Jarabe (David Bard Scholarship, Optometry UNSW), Katherine Qiu (Vision Science UNSW) and Jessica Yap (Optometry UNSW), Robert Qiu (medical student, Sydney Medical School) and Joey Stam (medical student, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands). The excellent advice and assistance provided by Dr Steven Eamegdool (postdoctoral researcher), Ephrem Sitiwin (PhD student, SSI and Optometry UNSW) and Adrian Cioanca (Honours, Adv Sci (Vis Sci) UNSW) is gratefully acknowledged.

“The Summer Research project has been a very eye opening and inspiring experience – it provided an invaluable and fun insight into research. We’ve definitely learnt a lot from Associate Professor Madigan, such as dissecting and preparing tissue for sectioning and staining. It has truly been a very enriching adventure and research is something we definitely would consider for the future.”

Generous Bequest to the Save Sight Institute continues legacy of Di Mackintosh

Diana Mackintosh was described by her friends and family as a humble person, generously giving herself to all that she was passionate about, with a zest for life and a unique sense of humour. A teacher by trade and a traveller by nature, Di combined her passions travelling the world and teaching children, instilling them with her own love of life, independence, humour and compassion for others.

Her travels took her to Guam, Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, New Guinea, the United Kingdom, across much of Europe and United States and a seven-year teaching post in Canada.

“People think I have led a quiet life, but in truth, I was a very active person and was blessed with a profession that allowed me to travel and one which gave me great satisfaction. I have loved every minute of my life.”

Sadly, Di passed away in 2016 but in her passing, she has ensured her legacy of compassion and empathy for others with her generous bequest to the Macular Research Group at the Save Sight Institute. The Macular Research Group aims to develop new treatments to reduce the prevalence of blindness from macular disease through multidisciplinary, patient orientated, world class research.

Di’s sister Margaret presented Professor Mark Gillies with her bequest knowing that such a donation would help many people in the future.

Much of Save Sight Institute’s research is conducted due to the generosity of people like Di Mackintosh. If you would like more information on how to make a donation or make a bequest, please contact us at

Celebrating 30 years of ophthalmology training at 2017 Registrars’ Conference and Teaching Programme

The Save Sight Institute in collaboration with Sydney Eye Hospital and the University of Sydney co-hosted the 30th annual Registrars’ Conference and Teaching Programme on Medical Retina from 11 to 13 January.

Held at the historic Sydney Eye Hospital, leading ophthalmologists and researchers shared their knowledge and experience with registrars from across Australia and New Zealand, providing opportunities for in-depth clinical case discussions and practical applications of current ophthalmic research.

Invited speakers included Director of the Macular Research Group at the Save Sight Institute, Professor Mark Gillies, Dr David Squirrell from the University of Auckland and Dr Xavier Fagan from the Austin and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospitals.

Director of the Save Sight Institute, Professor Peter McCluskey said, Professor Billson started this course 30 years ago, it’s grown and changed, and it’s a tribute to ophthalmology in Australia that we can hold a conference with experts entirely from Australia and New Zealand and put on a world-class programme.”

Trade exhibits were also established throughout the Conference, where Ophthalmic suppliers presented their products and innovations to the registrars. Teamed with the lecture series, the 2017 programme generated a stimulating, interactive and practical environment for collaboration.

Sydney Headsafe Community Concussion Seminars – March 2017

The Save Sight Institute is collaborating with HeadSafe and the School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Sydney to c0-host a series of HeadSafe Community Concussion Seminars in March 2017.

The seminars will showcase the latest concussion research featuring the HeadSafe Randwick Rugby Project  which features the unique X Patch Biosensor (worn behind the player’s ear to measure impacts) and collaborations with the University of Sydney Save Sight Institute and School of Biomechanical Engineering. and practical advice for teams, players, administrators and parents.

Locations and dates are:

  • 1 March 2017 Gymea Tradies, 57 Manchester Rd North, Gymea 
  • 22 March 2017 Wollongong University, Northfields Ave, Wollongong 
  • 29 March 2017 Sports House, Quad 1, Level 2, Parkview Drive, Sydney Olympic Park

The evenings will run from 6.30pm till 8.30pm and also provide a question and answer forum for parents, coaches, medical staff and the community featuring players from the areaEach session will provide an update from all sporting codes and information for players and parents relevant to schools, districts, amateur, professional and elite levels.

This initiative is proudly supported by the NSW Office of Sport and will feature Dr. Adrian Cohen, founder of HeadSafe and NeckSafe.

This one-hour workshop focuses on concussion injuries in sport and the management of return to play protocol. Topics include:

  • The definition of concussion
  • Common causes
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Assessment
  • Game day management
  • Specific sporting policies
  • Return to play guidelines

Tickets are strictly limited and are available by phoning 131302, or online through the NSW Office of Sport