Associate Professor Fred Chen

Associate Professor Fred Chen is a clinician researcher in retinal diseases. He was trained in vitreoretinal surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and returned to Lions Eye Institute in 2010 to establish the Ocular Tissue Engineering Laboratory.

For over 10 years, Associate Professor Chen has been at the forefront of the Lions Eye Institute’s significant and ongoing contribution to understanding dry age-related macular degeneration, inherited retinal diseases, natural history of disease progression, genotype-phenotype correlations, structure-function associations and multimodality retinal imaging. In addition, Associate Professor Chen has made major contributions to ophthalmic literature on the application of stem cell technology in the development of personalised medicine for rare retinal diseases.

Education/academic qualifications/roles responsibilities


  • 1999 – Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB BS, Honours), UWA
  • 2007 – The Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (FRANZCO)
  • 2011 – Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), University College of London


  • 2011 – Consultant ophthalmologist, Royal Perth Hospital
  • 2015 – Consultant ophthalmologist, Perth Children’s Hospital
  • 2021 – Principal Research Fellow, Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science, UWA
  • 2022 – Clinical Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne
  • 2022 – Consultant ophthalmologist, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

Awards/Professional achievements

  • 200+ peer-reviewed journal articles, >4000 citations, H-index 33
  • 45 invited national and international conference presentations
  • Reviewer for international journals and competitive research grants
  • Section Editor for Clinical Experimental Ophthalmology, Editorial Board for Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Genetics
  • Trainer of Excellence for Western Australia, RANZCO 2020
  • High Flyers Think Tanks Award, Australian Academy of Science 2015

Grants/scholarships/funding overview

  • Australian National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia
  • Retina Australia
  • Macular Disease Foundation Australia
  • Health Department of Western Australia
  • Telethon-Perth Children’s Hospital Research Grant
  • McCusker Charitable Foundation
  • Australian Foundation for Prevention of Blindness Trust
  • Honda Foundation
  • Viertel Charitable Foundation
  • The University of Western Australia

Research Activity

Dr Chen is passionate in finding a treatment for the most complex and yet an all too often neglected condition of the eye, inherited retinal diseases. This group of diseases accounts for almost 10% of all blindness and is the most common cause of visual impairment in the working-age population.

Dr Chen has over 170 peer-reviewed publications and seven book chapters relating to inherited retinal diseases, retinal surgery and stem cells. His Research Gate score is 40.67 and his Google Scholar h-index is 33, i10-index of 72, with 4213 citations in total. He has established productive national and international collaborations with the University of Melbourne, Queensland University of Technology, Australian Inherited Retinal Diseases Registry and the East Asia Inherited Retinal Diseases Consortium. He has nine on-going ethically approved clinical programs, including a State-wide natural history study for inherited retinal diseases. He is also actively involved in ophthalmic clinical trials, being a principal investigator in eight randomised controlled trials for Sponsors across the globe including the US Army.

Patients presenting with an inherited retinal disease have had their diagnostic journey experience significantly improved by Dr Chen’s clinical work. Through collaborative research, he has identified the underlying molecular genetic basis of multiple isolated and syndromic disorders. His team’s work has identified potential novel therapeutic targets for PRPF31 and ABCA4 associated retinal disease and provided progression data that will be valuable for current and future therapeutic interventions.

Board membership

Editorial Board Member of International Journals

  • Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmic Genetics
  • Clinical Experimental Ophthalmology

Company Director of Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (2013-2018)


  • Lions Eye Institute Clinical Education Program (The Colloquium)
  • Supervisor of Clinical Research Fellow in Medical Retina (Lions Eye Institute)
  • Supervisor of Clinical Fellow in Vitreoretinal Surgery (Royal Perth Hospital)
  • PhD supervisor (UWA, ECU, Curtin)
  • Masters supervisor (UWA)
  • Honours supervisor (UWA)
  • RANZCO Trainer of Excellence for Western Australia (2020)
  • RANZCO Selection Panel Member (2021)
  • UWA Faculty of Medicine OSCE Examiner
  • PhD Examiner (University of Sydney, Australian National University, Flinders University)

Leading Publications

  1. Heath Jeffery RC, Thompson JA, Lo J, Lamey TM, McLaren TL, McAllister IL, Mackey DA, Constable IJ, De Roach JN, Chen FK. Atrophy expansion rates in Stargardt disease using ultra-widefield fundus autofluorescence. Ophthalmology Science, accepted 2021 March – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666914521000038
  2. Kugelman J, Alonso-Caneiro D, Chen Y, Arunachalam S, Huang D, Vallis N, Collins MJ, Chen FK. Retinal boundary segmentation in Stargardt disease optical coherence tomography images using automated deep learning. TVST 2020;9(11):12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7581491/
  3. Drinkwater JJ, Chen FK, Brooks AM, Davis BT, Turner AW, Davis TME, Davis WA. Carotid disease and retinal optical coherence tomography angiography parameters in type 2 diabetes: The Fremantle Diabetes Study Phase II. Diabetes Care 2020;43(12):3034-3041. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/43/12/3034.long
  4. Beasley A, Bentel J, Allcock R, Vermeulen T, Calapre L, Isaacs T, Ziman MR, Chen FK, Gray ES. Low Pass Whole Genome Sequencing as a Method of Determining Copy Number Variations in Uveal Melanoma Tissue Samples The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. J Mole Diagnostics 2020;22(3):429-434. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1525-1578(20)30005-2
  5. Guymer RH, Wu Z, Hodgson LAB, Caruso E, Brassington KH, Tindill N, Aung KZ, McGuinness MB, Fletcher EL, Chen FK, Chakravarthy U, Arnold JJ, Heriot WJ, Durkin SR, Lek JJ, Harper CA, Wickremasinghe SS, Sandhu SS, Baglin EK, Sharangan P, Braat S, Luu CD; for the LEAD Study Group. Subthreshold nanosecond laser intervention in age-related macular degeneration: The LEAD Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Ophthalmology 2019; 126(6):829-838. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0161-6420(18)32135-3

To read more publications from this researcher, go to https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.


Associate Professor Fred Chen
Associate Professor Fred Chen

Genetic Eye Disease, Gene Therapies & Macular Degeneration,

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