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Can a research committee meeting be held over Zoom? This was the question the ORIA asked when COVID-19 hit. With 37 applications submitted to the 2021 ORIA grant round and 14 panel members and 56 reviewers lined up, ORIA held an online committee meeting on 19 September. Prof Alex Hewitt, Chair and A/Prof Samantha Fraser-Bell, Secretary of the Research Committee have worked hard to put this together with new ORIA CEO, Diane Harapin.

This year, applications have been received from ophthalmic institutes all across Australia. Like many organisations, COVID-19 has impacted ORIA’s financial position and it will be likely that fewer grants will be funded this year.
Prof Stephanie Watson, Chair of the ORIA commented, “The standard of ophthalmic research in Australia is really high and many more grants eligible than we can fund. It will be disappointing not to be able to provide assistance to all the excellent projects working towards improving outcomes for our patients.”

In the 2020 ORIA grant round, we received many more grants than we could fund. This limited the ability of Australian ophthalmology to discover new knowledge and work towards improving outcomes for patients; as well as promoting excellence in Australian ophthalmology internationally and to the public.

The ORIA is reliant on their members – the RANZCO Fellows and generous donations for support. Prof Mark Gillies, Vice-Chair of the ORIA says, “Supporting the ORIA is a great way to give back to profession. The ORIA grant program allows excellent research that informs patient management but also supports the careers in ophthalmic research.” We were grateful to the Perth Eye Surgeons Foundation, NSW Branch of RANZCO and Australia and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) among other generous donors.”

The Sydney Long collection has also raised the profile of the ORIA. This year, the ORIA has been acknowledged by the New South Wales Art Gallery for the use of Midday (1986, an oil on canvas) in the ‘Fieldwork’ touring exhibition.

Prof Stephanie Watson
Chair, ORIA