Leadership Team & Mentors

Meet the leadership team and project mentors for SPARK Melbourne

SPARK Melbourne Directors

SPARK Melbourne is co-directed by the Faculty’s Associate Dean Innovation & Enterprise, Professor Peter Choong and clinician-scientist Associate Professor Lauren Ayton, both of whom have extensive experience in research translation and commercialisation.

Professor Peter Choong

Peter is the Sir Hugh Devine Professor of Surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and Head of the Department of Surgery at Melbourne Medical School. He is an internationally recognised orthopaedic surgeon, an NHMRC Practitioner Fellow, and leads the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence into Total Joint Replacement. Founder of the AxcelaPen project, Peter’s research career has led to innovations in medical technology and the development of new intellectual property. Peter’s experience across the research and development pipeline has enabled him to form close connections with industry, government, health institutions and community advocacy organisations. He is passionate about improving health and wellbeing through innovation, creativity and enterprise.

Associate Professor Lauren Ayton

Lauren is a Senior Research Fellow and clinician-scientist with appointments in the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences and Department of Surgery (Ophthalmology) at the University of Melbourne. Her research expertise is in retinal disease, low vision and vision restoration. In particular, Lauren has led clinical programs of a number of vision prosthesis (bionic eye) implants. She was the Clinical Team Leader of the Bionic Vision Australia consortium between 2010 and 2017, and remains a Chief Investigator on that project. She is a Chief Investigator on the Monash Vision Group cortical implant program. In 2017, A/Prof Ayton accepted a position in industry as the Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs for Bionic Eye Technologies, a USA startup company affiliated with Harvard and Cornell Universities. This position provided experience in FDA regulatory processes, business strategic planning and investor relations. Her expertise in medical devices spans research to commercialisation, and she is passionate about innovation in the University sector. A/Prof Ayton returned to Melbourne in 2019 to lead her own research team investigating vision restoration and rehabilitation, and is also an investigator on gene therapy and pharmaceutical clinical trials for retinal disease. In addition to her research, A/Prof Ayton is a regular science commentator, including 3RRR radio, ABC radio and other media forms.


SPARK Melbourne has a strong network of highly experienced mentors to help guide researchers with their translational journey towards commercialisation.

Meet our mentors