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Targeting NAD+ for retinal ganglion cell protection in experimental glaucoma

Project Description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded 3-year PhD studentship to study novel neuroprotective strategies for the treatment of glaucoma at the Cardiff University School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

This exciting collaboration will focus on the use of nicotinamide (an amide of vitamin B3 and a major source of NAD) supplementation for the prevention of retinal damage in glaucoma. Training will be provided in techniques for the induction of experimental glaucoma (rodents), neuronal characterisation (bio/diolistics), and gene therapy in addition to rodent clinical imaging and phenotyping. It builds on recent work showing that vitamin supplementation with nicotinamide can prevent the loss of retinal ganglion cells in a mouse model of glaucoma (Williams et al. Science 2017). The key question, prior to clinical use is the extent to which this is a robust finding and the extent to which early neuronal (retinal ganglion cell) degeneration can be prevented – or even reversed and how this work can be combined with current therapeutic strategies available in the clinic.

The work will be undertaken as collaboration between the research groups of Professor James Morgan (, Professor Marcela Votruba ( at Cardiff University and Dr Pete Williams ( and at Karolinska Intitutet, Stockholm. Professor Morgan has a long standing interesting the early degenerative events in glaucoma and the extent to which these can be halted to reverse glaucoma damage (, Professor Votruba’s group has focussed on the mitochondrial changes that occur in early retinal ganglion cell degeneration and how this impact neuronal integrity. Professor Williams is expert in small animal models of glaucoma and in determining the mechanisms of neuronal degeneration (bioinformatics / RNA-sequencing). Collectively we bring a wide range of techniques and expertise to the problem,

The work will mostly be based in Cardiff but significant experiments covering gene therapy will be undertaken at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm reflecting the very close collaboration between the groups. Thus, there will be ample opportunities to encounter new and exciting scientific environments.

The student will be enrolled on the Postgraduate Training Programme at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and will attend lectures and research skills courses organised by the School (e.g. Cornea to Cortex, and the Doctoral Academy (

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Cardiff University was the highest ranked University within Wales, and 5th overall in the UK, based on research quality. Eighty-seven percent of research at the university was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent. The School of Optometry and Vision Sciences was ranked joint 4th of 94 submissions, and 2nd for Research Impact power in its unit of assessment. The School has acquired exceptional clinical and research equipment that is available to clinical personnel and researchers, including hardware and software for imaging (confocal/ multiphoton/ small animal and customised OCT) and image reconstruction.

Cardiff University is a member of the Russell Group top 24 UK research-led universities.The University is committed to ensuring equality and diversity in all of its activities. The School holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award that recognises a commitment to supporting the careers of women working in science.

Karolinska Institutet is one of the world’s leading medical universities. Its vision is to significantly contribute to the improvement of human health. Karolinska Institutet accounts for the single largest share of all academic medical research conducted in Sweden and offers the country’s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine. The work detailed here will be carried out at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience (CNS); and physically located at S:t Eriks Ögonsjukhus (St. Erik Eye Hospital; one of the largest specialist eye hospitals in Europe). The Department of Clinical Neuroscience conducts research and education in the field of neuroscience from the molecular level to the society level. The clinical research and education is conducted in collaboration with other research groups from the Karolinska Institutet, with other universities as well as the Stockholm County Council.

Cardiff is a vibrant city, with national parks and beautiful coastline approximately 30 mins away ( There are excellent rail links to London, Manchester, Birmingham, north and west Wales, and south west England. The nearest airports are Cardiff and Bristol, but there are also direct public transport links to London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports. More information is available on the University website:

Start date: 1st October 2019

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by Fight for Sight (View Website)

A tax-free stipend of £17,000p.a. is offered.

You must hold, or expect to obtain in the near future, a BSc (2:1 or higher) or Master's or equivalent in anatomy, physiology and pathology, biomedical sciences, biology, neuroscience, or other relevant scientific discipline. You must not be a medically or other clinically-qualified professional.

Prior laboratory experience is desirable, including immunohistochemistry, plasmid preparation, confocal microscopy, knowledge of statistical packages (e.g. R).

Please email a CV (including contact details of two referees) and covering letter outlining your interest in the project separately to Prof Morgan.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 74.95

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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