A/Prof Lauren Ayton (B. Optom, PhD, GCOT, FAAO) is a clinician-scientist with a strong research interest in vision restoration, retinal pathology and clinical assessment of visual performance. A/Prof Ayton completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in paediatric optometry, and then completed a postdoctoral position in the area of traumatic brain injury and ocular motor function.
Her research interests in this time developed in the areas of low vision and outcome assessment, which led to the position of Clinical Research Team Leader of the Bionic Vision Australia consortium between 2010 and 2017. During this role, A/Prof Ayton led the patient selection and assessments in the first-in-human trial of Australia's first bionic eye device.
From 2017 to 2019, A/Prof Ayton was engaged in industry in the USA, as the Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs of Bionic Eye Technologies, a startup affiliated with Harvard, Cornell and MIT Universities. In this role, she led the preparations of a clinical trial for the Boston retinal implant. She was also part of the senior leadership team, working on strategic planning, business development, investor pitches and more. This time in the USA ignited a passion for research translation and commercialisation, which she now continues as Director of Innovation and Enterprise (Engagement) for the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.
A/Prof Ayton is the co-founder and Chair of the International Harmonization of Outcomes and Vision Endpoints in Vision Restoration Trials (HOVER) Taskforce, which recently published a consensus document on the testing and reporting of patient outcomes in vision restoration trials from over 80 international experts. She currently leads a team investigating inherited retinal diseases, the most common cause of vision loss in working-aged adults. This includes involvement in interventional trials, including gene therapy and pharmaceuticals, through partnership with Dr Tom Edwards at the Centre for Eye Research Australia. A/Prof Ayton currently holds a MRFF Next Generation Clinical Researcher Fellowship and a NHMRC EL2 Investigator grant. She has published >80 peer reviewed articles (h-index=30), received >$7M in funding, and been involved in the formation of several startup companies.
A/Prof Ayton is also a passionate science communicator, presenting on 3RRR radio's Einstein-A-Go-Go science show, and speaking frequently at both peer-reviewed conferences and community engagement events.