Associate Professor Erica Fletcher MSc, PhD
2012 Research Grant recipient
Associate Professor Erica Fletcher heads the Visual Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne. She is a clinically trained optometrist who holds both MSc and PhD degrees.
In 1996, Dr Fletcher was awarded a highly coveted, CJ Martin Award from the NH&MRC to undertake her post-doctoral training with Prof. Dr. Heinz Wässle, at the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany. She joined the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience as a lecturer in 2003. In 2006 A/Prof. Fletcher was awarded the Irvin M and Beatrice Borish Award from the American Academy of Optometry for her contribution to vision research.
On 10 October 2013 Macular Disease Foundation Australia awarded Associate Professor Fletcher a research grant to support her research into how the removal of debris in the eyes changes as we age. This research was a step towards identifying early markers for those people with a high risk of disease progression. The information gained from this project is crucial for developing new treatments for macular degeneration.
Speaking of her research, Professor Fletcher said, “The mechanisms that lead to the early stages of age-related macular degeneration remain to be determined. In this project we will examine a possible cause for the development and progression of early age-related macular degeneration. In particular, we will determine whether signalling of immune cells via receptors called purinergic receptors influences the removal of debris as we age, predisposing people to the disease and also its progression. The information gained from this project will be crucial for developing new treatments targeting immune cell function, as well as using the purinergic receptor as a way of screening those people at greatest risk of disease progression.”