Geneticist nets RANZCO honour
A/Prof Andrea Vincent

Geneticist nets RANZCO honour

April 1, 2022 Staff reporters

Kiwi ophthalmologist and ophthalmic geneticist Associate Professor Andrea Vincent has been awarded the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ (RANZCO’s) Federal Meritorious Service Award at the college’s 52nd Congress.


Awarded for outstanding service to college fellows who have demonstrated significant public, academic, volunteer or philanthropic services, A/Prof Vincent was nominated for the award for her “impressive” track record in research and training. Specifically, this was for her role in establishing an ocular genetics laboratory at the University of Auckland, said RANZCO, and her research into the genetics of retinal and corneal dystrophies, keratoconus, glaucoma and lid abnormalities. “Andrea is known as a tireless and extremely generous clinician, trainer, researcher and colleague. Leading by example, she has been described as ‘extraordinarily resilient’ in the face of challenges that would have overwhelmed many others.” A consultant ophthalmologist, based at Auckland’s Greenlane Hospital and Retina Specialists, A/Prof Vincent also established the Database of Inherited Retinal Disease of New Zealand.


The award was a complete surprise, said A/Prof Vincent. “There are many fellows who give a lot of their time and energy to training, teaching, committees and branches, so I feel quite humbled as there are so many deserving individuals out there.”


A/Prof Vincent said she became fascinated with ophthalmic genetics during her registrar training after attending a RANZCO talk about a ‘gene gun’ used to deliver modified genes to cells. She then spent two years as the inaugural ocular genetic fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, working with Drs Elise Heon and Alex Levin. “I have been very lucky to count Dr David Mackey as a mentor and it is my numerous colleagues in Australia and worldwide, along with the amazing patients I see every day, that help keep me motivated to understanding inherited eye diseases better, so we can correctly identify and ultimately maximise vision.”


Research is a crucial part of improving ophthalmic practice, she said, providing a unique perspective and variety to any ophthalmologist’s working life. “I am very thankful to those who nominated me and to all my colleagues who I have worked with on RANZCO committees. I have learnt so much and value the camaraderie.”


The other main award winners at the 52nd Congress were:


Honorary College Fellowship – Dr Andrew Cuthbertson AO


Dr Andrew Cuthbertson AO


Awarded to individuals outside RANZCO to recognise their outstanding contribution and/or distinguished and eminent service to ophthalmology, Dr Andrew Cuthbertson was nominated for his work in the development of anti-VEGF antibodies, specifically the ophthalmic use of bevacizumab (Avastin).


A former senior scientist at Genentech and now senior advisor to Australian multinational biotech company CSL, Dr Cuthbertson is also a director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia. “He has been generous in sharing his immense knowledge with young researchers, many investigating ophthalmic diseases,” said RANZCO. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2016 for his service to medical science, particularly for the development of and delivery of innovative biotherapies to assist public health.


Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) – Dr Ross Littlewood


Dr Ross Littlewood


Awarded for outstanding contributions to the College, ophthalmology or community, Dr Ross Littlewood won the 52nd Congress DSM award for his “broad and substantive contribution” to ophthalmology in Western Australia and further afield. This includes his work with the St John Jerusalem Eye Hospital, where he assisted mainly Palestinian patients with complex eye problems, and his involvement with the East Timor Eye Program, said RANZCO. “Besides his international philanthropic work, Dr Littlewood has been a keen supporter of the ophthalmic set up in the Kimberley area… (and has) been seen and heard at many meetings talking about colour vision and medical ethics.”


College Award – Dr Brad Horsburgh


Dr Brad Horsburgh


Former RANZCO president Dr Brad Horsburgh continued his significant contributions to the college as chair of the Medicare Advisory, Workforce, and Diversity and Inclusion Committees, said RANZCO. “His leadership is regarded as exceptional by many of his colleagues… He has an understanding of medical politics that has allowed the community to achieve good relationships with members of the government and public services.”


These awards will be presented at the RANZCO Congress in Brisbane at the end of October as part of the 52nd and 53rd Congress graduation celebrations.



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  • Best overall film and Best surgical technique film - Dr Tabitha Scott for ‘Film 15: Filling the gap – artificial iris intraocular lenses’
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