Professor Mark Willcox has been recognised by the American Optometric Association (AOA) Contact Lens and Cornea Section with the Dr Donald R. Korb Award, and has been awarded the NHMRC Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award for the highest scoring Ideas Grant for 2019.
The Dr Donald R. Korb Award “recognises an individual who has been a true innovator and leader in the field of contact lenses and anterior segment disease. The awardee must have propelled the profession’s knowledge base through novel research or lifelong education to other professionals in the field of contact lenses and anterior segment anomalies, has made a major developmental impact on the profession through an innovative device or educational breakthrough, and has made a positive effect on the way practitioners manage their patients with anterior segment anomalies.”
The grant will evaluate whether new antimicrobials… can be bound to the surfaces of medical devices such as catheters and contact lenses and reduce the ability of microbes to adhere to them
Professor Willcox, Medical Microbiologist and Director of Research at UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science, has worked for many years in the area of infections of medical devices. His laboratory at the School focuses on the development of novel antimicrobials that have applications as antibiotics and disinfectants for a variety of purposes, including coating medical devices to reduce associated infections. Several of these initiatives have gone through to pre-clinical testing, and antimicrobial contact lenses through to Phase III clinical trials. Within the area of contact lens research, his laboratory focuses on understanding the aetiology of adverse events and comfort during contact lens wear.
Professor Willcox said, “It is a great honour to be awarded the American Optometric Association 2020 Dr Donald R. Korb Award for Excellence, especially as I hold Dr Korb in such high regard. His commitment to translational science is also what motivates me.”
Professor Mark Willcox has also been awarded the NHMRC Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award for the highest scoring Ideas Grant for 2019.
His Ideas Grant titled Tackling Hospital Acquired Infections with Peptide Mimics is in collaboration with Professor Naresh Kumar and Dr Renxun Chen (School of Chemistry UNSW), Professor Cyrille Boyer and Dr Edgar Wong (School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW), Professor David McKenzie (School of Physics, USyd), Associate Professor Natalka Suchowerska (Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, University of Sydney) and Associate Professor Karen Vickery (Macquarie University).
The grant will evaluate whether new antimicrobials (antibiotics) that the team has patented can be bound to the surfaces of medical devices such as catheters and contact lenses and reduce the ability of microbes to adhere to them. The team will investigate the mechanism of action of the compounds and then test the ability of the best performing ones to control infections.