Chairman’s Report

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Bionic Vision Australia Annual Report 2010


Our mission is to develop a functional retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye, capable of restoring a sense of vision to people with blindness due to inherited and degenerative retinal conditions.

Our aims are to:

  • improve the quality of life for people with degenerative vision conditions by bringing together Australia’s top scientists, engineers and clinicians to develop a bionic eye and carry out the first prototype human implant by 2010,

  • train the next generation of medical bionics experts, and

  • advance and commercialise bionic vision technology, further enhancing Australia’s position as a leader in the field of medical bionics.

Bionic Vision Australia is a national consortium of researchers from the Bionic Ear Institute (now the Bionics Institute), the Centre for Eye Research Australia, NICTA, the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales. The Australian National University and the University of Western Sydney are project partners. The first patient tests are planned to take place at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.


Chairman’s Report 3

Director’s Report 6

Board of Directors 9

Board Committees

Scientific Advisory Board

Research Programs

Highlights 2010

Wide-View Device Development 18

Stimulation Strategy 21

Preclinical 23

Surgical 25


Financial Report 29

Staff and Students 31

Publications Listing 40

Inside the bionic eye 46

Chairman’s Report

Prof Emeritus David Penington AC
Chairman, Bionic Vision Australia

The challenge articulated at the Australia 2020 Summit in April 2008 was to build an Australian bionic eye. The Commonwealth Government announced the allocation of $50m for the project over four years and in 2009 resolved that funding should be on a competitive basis, handled by the Australian Research Council as a Special Research Initiative. We and others competed for finds, with a bold plan to bring together Australia’s skills and innovation in medical bionics to achieve a first human implant within the four years of the research grant, leading then to a process for commercialisation. We received a grant for $42m over four years, effective from 1 January 2010.

Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) has been established as an unincorporated joint venture comprising our major partner organisations, committed to sharing skills and resources in this exciting venture. Our mission is to develop a functional retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye, that aims to restore a sense of vision to people with blindness due to inherited and degenerative retinal conditions.

As Chairman of BVA, I was delighted to welcome the then Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Kevin Rudd, to officially launch the consortium on 30 March 2010. As Prime Minister Rudd noted at the time, “the bionic eye project will keep Australia at the forefront of bionic research and commercialisation and has the potential to restore sight to thousands of people in Australia and across the world.”

The assembled team comprises experts in the fields of ophthalmology, biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science, neuroscience, vision science, psychophysics, wireless integrated-circuit design, and surgical, preclinical and clinical practice. In addition to the wealth of expertise provided by this diverse group of people, BVA is significantly enriched by a number of key staff who were instrumental in the research and development of the bionic ear. There is significant know-how within the team regarding what is required to take a medical device to market.
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