Getting the facts on stem cells and vision loss into the community

28 March 2014
Alex Hewitt, Raymond Wong, Alice Pebay and Megan Munsie at the CERA forum

Being able to restore sight once it has been lost is an age-old dream of human kind. However, it seemed impossible until the discovery of stem cells. But what are stem cells and why are they so important? What are the facts? What does stem cell science mean for eye disease?

At a free information session at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) over 60 patients and interested members of the public had their questions answered by researchers and doctors working in this exciting field.

Audience heard from one of CERA's researchers Dr Raymond Wong who discussed what stem cells are and how they are being used to study eye disease. Dr Alex Hewitt, head of CERA’s Clinical Genetics Unit specialising in the clinical and genetic analysis of inherited eye diseases, then spoke about power of stem cells to understand eye. Associate Professor Megan Munsie from Stem Cells Australia then discussed the science behind the headlines where she explored common misconceptions – in particular raising concern about clinics selling apparently 'miraculous' treatments without evidence to support their claims and high costs. Microphones were then turned over to the audience to give them the chance to have their questions answered.

The event was hosted by Dr Alice Pebay who heads the CERA’s Neuroregeneration Unit which is focused on the study of stem cells for modelling diseases and regeneration. Sponsorship for the event was provided by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

Following the success of this forum, another free public event will be held on Tuesday 3 June at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Join Alice, Alex and Megan to watch the award-winning documentary Stem Cell Revolutions and discuss the history, fears and hopes to do with stem cell research. Click here to find out more.

Alice Pebay and Megan Munsie are members of the Stem Cells Australia initiative.