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The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers has demonstrated its continuing support for research by awarding its prestigious Silver Medal to Professor Shahina Pardhan, the UK’s first female Professor of Optometry, and by renewing its commitment to further medal awards for academic and clinical achievement.

At a Court Lunch held in the historic Apothecaries’ Hall last week, the Company awarded its 6th Silver (Fincham) Medal to Professor Shahina Pardhan.

Professor Pardhan is Director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute within the School of Medicine at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Her career has inspired many optometrists, both in academia and in practice. 

The citation for the medal noted Professor Shahina Pardhan’s leadership of a multinational and multidisciplinary team of researchers in clinical and public health research; her own authorship of over 200 publications associated with more than 5,000 citations and the many prizes, awards and research grants she has achieved since her appointment to the professorship at Anglia Ruskin in 2001.

Her research has made a significant contribution to reducing the risk of diabetic retinopathy in South Asians in the UK and other parts of the world, and her other research achievements are in the areas of low vision and visual short-term memory. In 2021, she received the College of Optometrists’ Arthur Bennett Prize for her work on the global visual impact of diabetic retinopathy on eye health and vision, and how vision loss affects navigation through environments.

The Master, Liz Shilling, commented, “We were delighted to present this Medal to Professor Pardhan. It is only the 6th time that the Medal has been awarded. She has demonstrated sustained, career-long commitment to our founding principle of working for better vision for all, not just in terms of her personal record of achievement, but also as an inspirational advocate and mentor of research colleagues and as a champion for greater diversity and inclusion.

We hope to see more Medal winners of this calibre in the next few years, reflecting the huge strides being made in vision science by a more inclusive and diverse research community, working together and harnessing the power of multi-disciplinary conversations.”

WCSM awards gold, silver and bronze medals. Gold medals are rare, the most recent being awarded to Professor Alan Bird in April 2023. From 2024, the individual Silver Medal will be focused on mid-career researchers who can demonstrate national or international impact in the fields of education, research, innovation and/or clinical leadership.

Submissions are also now open for the WCSM’s two annual bronze medal competitions, which each year attract significant interest from UK research students and departments. The Master’s Medal recognises research in any aspect of vision or eye health published before, or within a year after, the author achieves a doctorate. The Ruskell Medal is open to those at the next stage of their careers, up to 7 years post-doctorate.

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