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Founded in 1972, the NVRI is dedicated to research aimed at better understanding the complexities of vision and its disorders. Studies include basic science, translational and clinical. Our goal is to conduct research that will lead to the preservation of sight and the prevention of blindness.

Proudly supported by Lions Victoria, the NVRI also has strong links with The University of Melbourne and Monash University.

Our research

The NVRI carries out basic science, translational and clinical research.
We are committed to understanding vision disorders and explaining how the brain processes vision.

Understanding the visual cortex

Development of a
bionic eye

Visual diseases

NVRI research team


Professor Michael Ibbotson

Director

Michael obtained his PhD from the University of London in the field of visual neuroscience before accepting a post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. In 2011, he departed the ANU while Head of the Visual Sciences Department and took up the position as Director of the NVRI and Professor at the University of Melbourne. In 2013, Michael was part of a major research collaboration to successfully fund the Brain Function Centre of Excellence through the Australian Research Council (ARC) that will run until the end of 2020. Previously he was also a member of other major collaborations including a special ARC fund to develop a bionic eye and the Vision Science Centre of Excellence.

Current research can be classified into three main paths: 1) understanding the retina and developing bionic eye technologies; 2) investigating how the visual cortex translates the visual signals processed in the retina; and 3) understanding how high-level visual processes are translated into perceptions and actions.

Marianne Coleman

Dr Marianne Coleman

Clinical Research Fellow

Marianne, an orthoptist, completed her PhD in 2015 at Glasgow Caledonian University (UK). Passionate about clinical research, Marianne has worked with orthoptists, optometrists and ophthalmologists, and other medical and allied health professions in wider health research. Her first postdoc was to coordinate the UK’s first randomised controlled trial using video games to treat amblyopia in children. She recently completed a prestigious one year fellowship, funded by a UK national sight loss charity and the Royal Society of Medicine, exploring dementia-friendly vision testing and how dementia affects stereopsis. Marianne joined the NVRI in March 2020 as part of a joint clinical research appointment with the University of Melbourne and aims to build a programme of clinical research involving patients, clinicians and clinical data.

Dr Wei Tong

Research Fellow

Wei completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of China in 2012, majoring in applied physics before moving to Australia to pursue a PhD in the School of Physics at The University of Melbourne. She works on the fabrication and optimization of diamond electrodes for neural stimulation. Upon completion of her PhD in 2016, this research has continued at the NVRI. In late 2020, Wei was appointed to Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne (UoM) but continues to be based at the NVRI and conduct research activities in collaboration with the UoM Department of Physics. Her current research is funded by an ARC Linkage Grant and industry partner Carbon Cybernetics.

Dr Young Jun (Jason) Jung

Lions NVRI Vision Fellow

Young Jun (Jason) Jung completed his Bachelor of Science with Honours at the University of Melbourne in 2017, majoring in neuroscience and physiology. Jason commenced his PhD at the NVRI in 2018 and focused on understanding how the visual signals processed in the retina are translated in the visual cortex. In 2021, Jason was appointed the inaugural Lions NVRI Vision Fellow to link the research that has been successfully undertaken in the retina and taking the next steps to implant our newly designed carbon-based technology electrode arrays directly into the visual cortex.

Dr Emma Brunton

Post Doctoral Fellow

Emma grew up in Gelong before undertaking a BSc/BE at Monash University. She specialised in biomedical engineering and graduated with first class honours in 2011. Emma completed her PhD in 2015 as part of Monash Vision Group’s bionic eye project where she developed a passion for bridging the gap between physiology and engineering. For her PhD work, she received the prestigious Douglas Lampard Prize. Her first post-doc was completed at Newcastle University in the UK as part of an EPSRC funding initiative “SenseBack” developing new technologies to provide sensory feedback to upper limb prosthesis users. Emma joined the NVRI in 2021. Her current research, funded by an NHMRC Ideas Grant, involves investigating combined optical-electrical stimulation for precise neural stimulation to improve the visual acuity of retinal prosthesis.

Dr Hamish Meffin

Honorary Research Fellow

Hamish is trained in mathematics, physics and neuroscience. He joined the NVRI in 2014 as a Research Fellow funded by the Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function with a focus on two main research themes: 1) combining theoretical and experimental approaches to understanding how neural circuits give rise to visual perception, and 2) the development of a bionic eyes to restore vision to people with degenerate retinal diseases. In 2020, Hamish moved to a position in the Department of Engineering at The University of Melbourne but retains his research program at the NVRI.

Dr Molis Yunzab

Honorary Post Doctoral Fellow

Molis completed her undergraduate studies at the Australian National University majoring in neuroscience and genetics before moving to the University of Melbourne in 2011 to commence a PhD on receptive fields in the primary visual cortex. In 2016, Molis was appointed the inaugural LEW Carty Lions Fellow at the NVRI to study the primary visual cortex (V1) and investigate the plasticity of its neural responses. She has now moved to Boston to take up a position at Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School. Molis has an honorary appointment with the NVRI as she remains a key research collaborator.

Dr Melanie Stamp

Honorary Post Doctoral Fellow

Melanie conducted her PhD within the excellence cluster ‘Nanosystem Initiative Munich’ at the University of Augsburg, Germany, where she focused on the development of life-on-a-Chip systems and acoustic stimulation of cells. Upon completion of her PhD in 2017, she joined the carbon cybernetic group in the School of Physics at The University of Melbourne. Her current research, funded by an NHRMC project grant, involves the design, fabrication and optimization of diamond electrodes towards a retinal prosthesis prototype to restore high visual acuity for patients suffering from retinal diseases. Additionally, she investigates neuromodulating effects using acoustic stimulation at the NVRI.

Dr Cirous Dehghani

Honorary Clinical Vision Researcher

Cirous completed his PhD in 2015 at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) on corneal nerve morphology. During subsequent postdoctoral appointments (QUT and CSIRO), he has explored ophthalmic biomarkers for diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer’s disease. While employed at the NVRI, Cirous focused his research on eye biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, ocular vascular micromorphology and systemic diseases, and public eye health. He is now working at the University of Canberra in their new Optometry department but retains a research interest at the NVRI.

Dr Sorel De Leon

Post Doctoral Fellow

Sorel holds a professional degree in electronics engineering from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia, and a M.Sc. from Hasselt and Maastricht University in Bioelectronics and Nanotechnology, Belgium. Her PhD was based at CSIRO where she worked to develop an impedance-based sensor to monitor 3D cell cultures. Her research interest lies in the use of electronics to solve biological problems. Currently, she is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at RMIT in collaboration with NVRI where she works with carbon fiber electrodes for the detection of seizures.

Dr Stella Aslanoglou

Post Doctoral Fellow

Stella Aslanoglou received her BSc (Hons) degree in Physics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2014 and her Master’s degree in Microelectronics-Optoelectronics from the University of Crete in 2016. In 2017, she came to Australia to pursue a PhD in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University. She worked on the engineering of functional nano–bio interfaces, based on vertically aligned silicon nanostructured arrays, for manipulation and interrogation of cell function, behaviour and fate. Her research was focused on exploring the potential of these nanostructured-driven interfaces in facilitating intracellular delivery – a core concept in fundamental and translational biomedical research – for developing novel cell therapies based on gene modification. Since May 2021, Stella is a Research Fellow in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne working on the development of optically-driven diamond electrodes for neural stimulation. This project is funded by an ARC Discovery grant on which Professor Michael Ibbotson is a Chief Investigator and key research is being conducted at the NVRI.

Maryam Hejazi

PhD Candidate

Maryam is an international student from Iran and commenced her studies with the NVRI in late 2017 focusing on a retinal research project.

Samira Falahatdoost

PhD Candidate

Samira is an international student from Iran and commenced her studies with the NVRI in October 2018 focusing on a retinal project.

James Begeng

PhD Candidate

James is undertaking his PhD at Swinburne University of Technology with long term NVRI collaborator Dr Tania Kameneva. His retinal project is based at the NVRI and commenced in 2019.

Simon Higham

PhD Candidate

Simon completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering (Honours) at RMIT in 2020. He will commence his PhD project in early 2021 involving the evaluation of high density, cortical recording arrays. This project will be performed in collaboration with RMIT university, NVRI and Carbon Cybernetics. Simon also works as a research assistant through Carbon Cybernetics in conjunction with the University of Melbourne on the design and development of carbon fiber neural recording devices.

Jordan Sibberas

PhD Candidate

Jordan undertook his Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Queensland and graduated in 2019 after completing an Honours project researching the changes to the visual system caused by autism. He joined the NVRI in 2020, and his work focuses on researching the visual cortex.

Zuitan Tao

PhD Candidate

Zuitian commenced his PhD studies with the NVRI in April 2021 focusing on a cortical research project. This work is in collaboration with the Department of Engineering at The University of Melbourne.

Yiqing Shen

PhD Candidate

Yiqing commenced her PhD studies with the NVRI in November 2021 focusing on a neural network research project. This work is in collaboration with the Department of Engineering at The University of Melbourne.

Our partners


University of Melbourne


The University of Melbourne administers NVRI applications for government research grants and appoints senior research staff of the NVRI to concurrent academic positions. The NVRI enjoys close working relationships with the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences and the Department of Engineering.


As a member of the Brain Function Centre of Excellence, the NVRI is collaborating with Australia’s leading brain researchers to better understand how the brain interacts with the world by focusing on the brain’s intricate structure and functions.

Lions International


Lions International has supported the NVRI from its earliest years. It has established the Lions Vision Research Fund for the exclusive benefit of the NVRI and the Lions Vision Foundation has provided generous support to the NVRI over many years.

NVRI supporters


Government


Industry


Trusts, foundations & bequests


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