DR JEANETTE PRITCHARD

Chief Operating Officer,
Monash Vision Group

BRAIN IMPLANTS FOR BIONIC VISION

In 2013, the World Health Organisation estimated that there were 39 million people worldwide with complete blindness. A significant proportion of these people suffer from conditions that damage either the optic nerve or the eye itself. One such condition is glaucoma, which in 2010 accounted for 4.8 million cases and is the second most common cause of blindness.

At the Vision 2020 Summit held in 2008, one thousand industry leaders met to discuss strategies and priorities for Australia’s future. Medical bionics was highlighted as an existing strength due to the worldwide success of the Cochlear hearing implant and subsequently, Monash Vision Group was awarded Federal Government funding to develop a device to bring sight to people with incurable blindness. During her talk, Jeanette will explain the importance of the Monash Vision Group approach to vision restoration and the far-reaching impact that this technology will have for the blind community and beyond.

BIOGRAPHY

Jeanette joined the Monash Vision Group in August 2010. She has twenty years’ experience working in medical device development, over twelve of which have been in the biotechnology industry in the UK and Australia. She completed her doctorate at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), during which she developed a clinical device for use in hospital emergency departments to diagnose patients experiencing heart attacks.

Jeanette is from Manchester in the North West of England. She relocated to Melbourne in 2006 to a role in a Victorian state government funded organisation that was investing in commercial nanotechnology developments. When the opportunity came up to join the Monash Vision Group, Jeanette was ideally placed to manage the project as, in addition to her professional expertise in medical device development, she has family members in the UK with retinitis pigmentosa and so has a personal interest in bionic vision technologies.