The Save Sight Institute at the forefront of eye research education

9 March 2023
Welcoming students to share knowledge and experience about eye research
As part of its commitment to providing a range of study options and opportunities to learn about eye research, the Save Sight Institute has recently welcomed several students to undertake short placements under the supervision of our renowned academics.

What is truly remarkable about these initiatives, is that they are open not only to medical graduates and HDR students, but also students interested in vision science at various stages of their educational journey.

As an example, the young Grace Tran from Baulkham Hills High School completed her Year 10 placement at the Save Sight Institute in early December 2022.

Given her particular interest in medical research and science, she reached out to us for the opportunity to spend time with some of our researchers and further extend her knowledge and passion. 

Over the span of a week, she received hands-on experience in both SSI labs at Sydney Hospital and the Australian Technology Park (ATP), and the SSI clinic under the careful supervision of Dr Sheng Hua and Dr Ling Zhu, and Associate Professor Michele Madigan and Ms Stephanie Retsas.

She also assisted the Education Team with the Ophthalmic Science Masters Practical Course exam, and learnt about the Save Sight Registries project and its impact from Project Manager Ms Mila Kolmogorova. 

We were delighted to host Grace and be able to share a short introduction to the type of research we conduct within the Institute, and we wish her the best of luck in her future career.

More recently, in January 2023, our "Introduction to Vision Science Research" opportunity at the SSI Laboratories welcomed a super-energetic group of Year 3 UNSW Vision Science and Optometry students: Carmen (Ying Lam) Chan, Claudia Tiong, Kelvin Huang, Jennifer Du, Merna Matti, Rita Bayadh, Brendon Yue, and Peter Tweedie. Ran with guidance from Associate Professor Michele Madigan (SSI and UNSW) and excellent support from Stanley Wu (Scientia PhD Student, UNSW), this research experience aimed to provide a unique hands-on experience for vision science students across human eye anatomy, cell biology and pathology. 

During the lab days, the students not only explored human eye anatomy with dissection, but also grew eye cells in tissue culture, prepared buffers, and discovered lots of eye-facts and ‘eyelights’. They prepared paraffin sections of eye tissues plus histological staining and immunolabelling cells to identify proteins. This was followed by visualising full colour and detail using SSI's state-of-the-art confocal and axioimager microscopes. In between, there were interesting discussions about eye anatomy, eye diseases, and clinical and vision science research questions plus plenty of drawing.

The students also visited the SSI Laboratory at the ATP campus and enjoyed a full day with retinal researchers, Drs Ling Zhu and Ting Zhang and the team, learning about nanoparticles and retinal drug delivery. Furthermore, a visit to the Lions NSW Eye Bank and Tissue Banks at Sydney Eye Hospital provided students with a better understanding of organ donation and how donor corneas are prepared for transplantation.

The students showed great enthusiasm, and in their own words exclaimed:

It was an extremely valuable hands-on lifetime experience to see things we wouldn’t normally see in classroom, from using the fancy microscopes to liquid nitrogen [..] In-depth sharings have guided and inspired us a lot

Finally, Save Sight Institute offers placement to Orthoptics students. After a two-year Covid hiatus, the team were excited to welcome back students and help them integrate their orthoptic and ophthalmic knowledge in a real-life setting. Among them, the UTS student Jacinta Walz pictured below. Notably, we also had a short visit last year from an international high school student from Germany, who wanted to begin their journey in medicine. 

At Save Sight Institute Clinic, we see some of the rarest eye diseases and perform electrophysiology diagnostic testing which sparks the students’ interest to become more involved in learning. We have received numerous positive feedback from our students regarding their learning experience at our clinic, and we encourage anyone that is interested in this area to investigate the variety of career options within vision science. 

If you are interested in gaining experience at SSI, please complete the EOI form and we will be in touch when we are running our next program.

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