Dr Ehsan Vaghefi has received nearly $1m to continue the development of his laser-based imaging MyIScope device from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)’s Endeavour Fund.
Dr Vaghefi, from the University of Auckland’s faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, said he felt very “reassured” when he found out about the award. He said it was extremely uplifting and encouraging to see others, many with more experienced than himself, believe in his dream. “Since the day of the announcement, I am feeling much more driven to get closer, one step at a time, initially by delivering on the aims of the MBIE funded project.”
Dr Vaghefi said the MBIE Endeavour grant is invaluable to the team and its research: “As a result, we are doubling the size of my team of engineers. This means we will hopefully move twice as fast towards the clinical trials of my device.” The team is busy designing the second generation MyIScope and Dr Vaghefi said several new patents were likely to be filed as a result of the next generation device. With the help of Dr David Squirrell, co-applicant of the Endeavour grant, planning is under way for the first pre-clinical trial across several sites in Auckland early next year.
Dr Vaghefi says MyIScope is capable of screening for early signs of blindness, affordably and quickly. It is portable, inexpensive to manufacture and can be operated by a trained nurse, with its design intended to remove barriers to eyecare for lower socioeconomic and remote communities in New Zealand and overseas.