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Emeritus Professor Eric Papas is the 18th recipient of the prestigious H Barry Collin Research Medal for his exceptional achievements and significant contributions in cornea and contact lens research.

Prof Papas is a physics graduate from the University of Birmingham, and an optometry graduate from Manchester University Institute of Science & Technology. After graduating in 1981, he worked initially as an optometrist in private practice and then in clinical research before migrating to Australia in 1992 to take up a position at the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit (CCLRU) at UNSW Sydney.

In 2001, he undertook a PhD and following his conferral, he quickly rose through the ranks at the UNSW based research centre’s Vision CRC and Brien Holden Vision Institute. He has held distinguished roles as both an “inventor and researcher” and mentor to a wide variety of students, post-doctoral fellows, and researchers. In these two roles he has notably:

a) Been associated with the commercialisation of some of the most well received contact lens products in the history of our profession, including the Omniflex SofBlue high water content lens (Hydron), the Echelon soft Bifocal (Allergan), Acuvue Advance silicone hydrogel lens (Johnson & Johnson), Air Optix Night & Day, Air Optix, Air Optix Aqua, Air Optix Toric, Air Optix Multifocal silicone hydrogels (CIBA-Vision/Alcon), Biofinity silicone hydrogel (CooperVision) and Revitalens Ocutec solution (AMO).

b) Trained over 20 graduate students, including some who have become leaders of the profession, such as Professor Isabelle Jalbert, Associate Professor Blanka Golebiowski, Dr Ulli Stahl, Associate Professor Maria Markoulli and Dr Nina Tahhan.

Prof Papas’ service to the profession through manuscript reviewing (for over 20 different journals) and various editorial positions for seven journals, including Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, Optometry & Vision Science and Eye & Contact Lens, shows his leadership and dedication to our profession. He has also held leadership roles within the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society and International Society for Contact Lens Research.

His skills in research, both basic and clinical research, were instrumental in the development of the first silicone hydrogel lenses. Indeed, Prof Papas is an inventor on the CIBA Vision patent on silicone hydrogels that has been so successful commercially. His appointment to the International Society for Contact Lens Research, which has only 100-invited members worldwide, is testament to the fact that his work has received significant attention from his peers. Of considerable note is the fact that he is named on 12 patents, including the so-termed “Nicolson patents” that lay claim to the “invention” of silicone hydrogels. This is a tremendous contribution to contact lens development.

About the H Barry Collin Research Medal

The award is named after Professor H Barry Collin, long-serving former Editor-in-Chief of Optometry Australia’s journal, Clinical and Experimental Optometry and includes a $5,000 prize and the recipient submitting a paper for publication in CXO. 

It recognises outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge in optics, vision science or clinical optometry by a person who is an Australian citizen or a graduate of an Australian optometry school, or who has done a significant part of his or her research in an Australian institution.  

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Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.