Dr Fred Chen heads the Ocular Tissue Engineering Unit at Lions Eye Institute in Perth. He was born in Taiwan and studied medicine in Perth at The University of Western Australia. He is a trained ophthalmologist and holds a PhD in surgical techniques of retinal pigment epithelium transplantation for treatment of dry and wet macular degenerations. His research teams are involved in testing of new treatments in dry age-related macular degeneration, high resolution retinal imaging, monitoring of inherited retinal diseases and application of stem cell technology in personalised medicine.
Dr Chen was awarded a Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grant for $120,000 over two years.
His research is titled ‘Stargardt macular degeneration: finding new genetic mutations and preparing patients for clinical trials’ and is a collaboration between Lions Eye Institute, The University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
Stargardt's disease is a form of macular degeneration that occurs in children and young adults, which is caused by many different mutations of a specific gene. Although less common than AMD, it has a profound, lifetime impact on the person and their family. There is a need to improve the speed and accuracy of genetic diagnosis within Australia and to identify a group of people who will be suitable to participate in clinical trials of new treatments that are in late stage development.
The grant provided by Macular Disease Foundation Australia will provide initial funding to investigate the varied presentation and natural history of Stargardt's in Australia, to help early diagnosis, as well as develop techniques and infrastructure to discover mechanisms of new mutations in the Stargardt's gene.
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