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Investigating a novel treatment for retinal scaring

   Department of Eye and Vision Science

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

 Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is a common pathological process following the detachment of the retina and is reported to develop in 5–10% of cases. This wound healing process is catastrophic for the retina and causes the subsequent loss of vision. Understanding the mechanism of scar formation and how this can be manipulated is the cornerstone of this project.

We and others have previously shown that the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell is the driving force in the scar formation and we are now targeting the cellular differentiation pathway of these cells with tailored light activated compounds. 

The successful student will explore novel light treatments that manipulate retinal cellular behaviour to prevent the debilitating scaring process. We are looking for a self-motivated student who would relish the opportunity to work within an internationally recognised department with translational links to retinal clinical colleagues. The student will play a significant role within the teams’ development, design and implementation of future therapeutic interventional studies for the treatment of proliferative retinopathies. We have existing projects relating to cell transplant, stem cell differentiation, drug delivery to the eye and ocular disease models, which would both support and benefit from this studentship.

This project would be suitable for a motivated student with a strong interest in translational research and its application to combat vision loss. The project brings together a multi-disciplinary supervisory team with expertise in ocular cell biology, stem cell physiology, organic chemistry and biomaterial science. You will undertake experiments involving cell culture, qRT-PCR, western blotting, promoter activity assays, multi-photon/confocal microscopy, and other state-of-the-art laboratory techniques (e.g. RNAseq or proteomics profiling). You will have strong interactions with clinical colleagues in St Paul’s Eye Unit, ensuring that the project maintains clinical relevance. 

You would be supervised by a team from the Departments of Eye and Vision Science (Drs Kearns, Sheridan) at the Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences. In addition, collaborative supervision from our industrial partner and clinical team ensure the breadth of training to the student is the ideal platform for a student to succeed and develop as an individual. The groups’ wide-ranging expertise will provide training and support in all relevant laboratory and analysis techniques. Additional training in specialised area of molecular design and organic synthesis, will be carried out at Durham University, with further industrial support from LightOx Ltd. Collaboration with our industrial partner will also allow the student to experience an industrial placement and acquire different skill sets that are required in a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). As two positions are available, the project can be adapted to the different skill set needs within the project and therefore applications from candidates with degrees related to biochemistry, biology and bioengineering are encouraged.

Please contact us for more informal information and to enquire on the application process:

Dr Carl Sheridan: Dr Victoria Kearns:

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses as well as research costs of around £10,000 per year. There is NO funding attached to this project. Details of costs can be found on the University website.


Supporting references
Eyre et al, Exp Eye Res. 2020 Dec;201:108293. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2020.108293. Epub 2020 Oct 8. PMID: 33039459.
Nian et al., J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2021 Jan;15(1):49-62. doi:10.1002/term.3154. Epub 2020 Nov 23. PMID: 33180364.
Davies et al., 2020. Interface Focus.
Sultan et al., BMJ Open Ophthalmol. 2020 Oct 9;5(1):e000474. doi:10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000474.
Chisolm et al., ACS Chem. Biol., 2019, 14, 369–377, DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.8b00916

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