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


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.

Dr Wei Tong

Post Doctoral 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. Current research, funded by an NHRMC project grant, involves testing the visual acuity of diamond devices in vitro by recording from retinas and determining the stimulation strategies to provide the optimal visual acuity from the prototype device.

Dr Ali Almasi

Post Doctoral Fellow

Ali completed a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering at The University of Tehran in 2009 then obtained a Master of Science in biomedical engineering from The Sharif University of Technology in Iran in 2012. He moved to Australia in 2013 to undertake a PhD at The University of Melbourne and in 2015 joined the NVRI team to carry out the experimental aspects of his project. Since completion of his PhD in 2017, Ali was appointed on an NHMRC Project Grant to use computational theories to understand how neurons in the early visual pathway learn to encode visual information.

Dr Shi Sun

Post Doctoral Fellow

Shi (Scott) undertook his PhD studies with the NVRI and submitted in August 2019. While he waits for his thesis to be confirmed, he has been employed on a Strategic Initiative Grant funded by the Brain Function Centre of Excellence focusing on a cortical research project that builds on the research conducted during his PhD. (55)

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.

Kevin Meng

Research Assistant

Kevin completed his Master’s degree in Life Sciences and Technologies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). His experience in the field of artificial vision includes retinal research projects at the NVRI and clinical work for a retinal prosthesis in industry across Europe and Asia. Kevin is a current PhD student affiliated to the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, focusing on brain-computer interfaces. He collaborates with the NVRI to contribute to the development of novel stimulation strategies for retinal implants.

Young Jun Jung

PhD Candidate

Jung (Jason) commenced his PhD studies in early 2017 focusing on a cortical research project.

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.

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



Trusts, foundations & bequests

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