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An eye-on-chip approach to tackle blindness in glaucoma


Project Description

This project will determine the cellular basis for glaucoma by leveraging a novel microfluidics/organ-on-chip device that recapitulates the cellular mechanisms controlling pressure in the eye. Eye pressure is typically elevated in glaucoma, a blinding eye disease affecting 65M people. Reducing eye pressure is the only means to prevent further glaucomatous vision loss.

Most glaucoma therapies fail to sufficiently lower eye pressure because they do not target the key factors controlling pressure, which remain largely unknown. To develop better vision-saving glaucoma drugs, we must overcome 3 hurdles: (i) determine the cellular mechanisms controlling eye pressure, (ii) identify druggable targets to lower pressure, and (iii) establish model systems to screen drug candidates. All 3 hurdles can be overcome using an organ-on-chip approach.

The student will be jointly based in the world’s leading laboratory for cellular biomechanics in glaucoma and the world’s leading laboratory for cellular mechanobiology of cancer using microfluidics. Both laboratories are located at Imperial’s historic South Kensington campus, a short walk from some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including the Victoria and Albert museum, Hyde Park and Royal Albert Hall. The project will build on an existing organ-on-chip technology developed by Prof. Kamm (MIT) for cancer applications. The student will collaborate with the leading laboratory of pharmacology and physiology in glaucoma, led by Prof. Stamer (Duke). The student will be part of an international collaboration and will spend several months training under Profs. Kamm and Stamer at MIT and Duke University in the US.

Funding Notes

The studentship is funded by Fight for Sight, the leading charity for vision research in the UK. The studentship will be awarded for 3 years starting in October 2019. The award provides a PhD stipend, fees at the home/EU rate, and research expenses (including consumables, essential equipment and travel). Applications from outside the UK and EU are welcome, but overseas fees are not covered, and overseas candidates would have to demonstrate an ability to self-fund overseas fees.

How good is research at Imperial College London in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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