At Mamamia, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the Australian men who are doing good things and trying to make our country a better place. So we came to you with a list of 100 great Aussie men and asked you to decide Mamamia’s 50 Best Blokes. This week, we’ll be counting down the top ten and announcing who you chose as Mamamia’s Best Bloke on Friday. Coming in at number eight is Professor Yogesan Kanagasingam. Never heard of him? Allow us to introduce you.
Professor Yogesan Kanagasingam is a classic over achiever; the kind of person that could have gone anywhere, done anything. But two decades ago, he chose to move across the world to little old Perth, Western Australia.
It was a decision that would ultimately change the face of healthcare in this country and the lives of thousands around the world.
Educated in Norway, Prof. Yogesan, or Yogi as he prefers to be called, is the Research Director of the Australian e-Health Research Centre at the CSIRO. Formerly involved in cancer research, he has shifted his primary focus (pun intended) to the human eye.
As Dr Yogi notes, not only are they the window to the soul, they can also be a window into what's happening inside the physical body – a notion Prof. Yogesan demonstrated by developing an eye test for Alzheimer's. Yes, an eye test. One so effective, in fact, that it can detect the disease up to 15 years in advance; one so simple that he believes within just a few years people will be able to walk into a pharmacy and asses their risk of developing the disease.
It was a breakthrough that reverberated around the world and lead to him being nominated for 2015 Australian of the Year. It's also been given to specialists to study, that could potentially lead to a cure.
Any scientist could easily hang their career on an innovation like that, but Dr Yogi isn't any scientist.
A serial inventor, Prof. Yogesan is the owner of dozens of patents and the brain behind several life-changing medical technologies. Most of which have been driven by one simple vision: to ensure that quality eye-care isn't dictated by geography.
"My focus is to prevent needless blindness in rural communities, especially in the indigenous population living in rural Western Australia and also in Torres Strait Islands," he said.
The reason? Largely thanks to a sight-threatening disease called diabetic retinopathy, the rate of blindness in Indigenous Australians over the age of 40 is six times that of non-indigenous Australians.
With the vision to combat this, Prof. Yogesan and his team pioneered the Remote-I screening platform for people in isolated communities. It essentially allows a rural health worker to take images of the patient's eye using a low-cost retinal scanner and upload it to a cloud database for examination by a specialist virtually anywhere in the world.
It's sight-saving technology and it's already going global – tens of thousands have been tested in China's Guangdong province, plus more in Indonesia and India.
“My ultimate goal is to use these technologies to prevent blindness and other chronic diseases around the world,” he told Scoop. “In Indonesia, three million people are blind because of cataracts – you don’t need to be blind because of cataracts, you can prevent that.”
It's not hard to see why Prof. Yogesan is considered one of the world's best in his field. Nor why Mamamia considers him one of Australia's best blokes.