Major Research Themes
Theme 1: Vision and cognition
Aim: To investigate the impact of cognitive impairment and dementia on visual symptoms and visual impairment.
Theme 2: Children's vision
Aim: To improve the delivery of treatment to children with amblyopia and strabismus (squint).
Theme 3: Limbal stem cell deficiency
Aim: To develop new treatments for the eyes with limbal stem cell deficiency.
Theme 4: Inherited retinal diseases
Aim: To determine the genetic basis of inherited retinal diseases and develop innovative new treatments, including stem cells.
Theme 5: Mitochondria and the Eye
Aim: To determine the natural history and genetic basis of mitochondrial eye disorders and develop innovative new treatments, including gene therapy.
Newcastle University has strong clinical links with the Newcastle Eye Centre and research into blinding eye disorders forms an important focus of our current translational agenda. With access to a large pool of patients attending specialist services, the Newcastle eye research group has developed an ambitious research programme aiming to dissect the molecular and genetic basis of sight-threatening disorders affecting the cornea, retina and optic nerve. Our aim in the next five years is to significantly advance our basic understanding of these progressive, and frequently untreatable, causes of blindness by pursuing novel experimental approaches in collaboration with other world-leading research groups, both locally and internationally.
The eye provides an easily accessible organ for neuroprotective strategies and with rapid advances in stem cell biology and gene therapy, targeted regenerative medicine is becoming increasingly attractive for a broad range of eye disorders. Groundbreaking translational work by the Ophthalmology research group in these challenging areas of research has attracted significant competitive funding over the years, with major grants from the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, and Fight for Sight. By capitalising on our established patient cohorts, the Newcastle eye research group is also fostering strong links with the pharmaceutical industry to provide viable translational pipelines for their basic research programmes.
Over the past ten years, other major research strands have developed in parallel looking into the optimal management of children with squints, thyroid eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, and the impact of cognitive impairment on visual function.
The Ophthalmology group has developed multidisciplinary links with other researchers across the Newcastle Campus to bring together the expertise needed to tackle important research questions on the pathophysiology of eye disease and ways to develop effective treatment strategies. A number of important strategic collaborations have also emerged over the past five years:
A central element of our mission statement is the need to foster the next generation of ophthalmologists, not only to deliver a first class clinical service, but to also lead the way as the teachers, researchers and leaders of tomorrow. A number of keen young researchers are coming through the ranks and we are also recruiting new talents through the ACF programme.
Impact and Engagement
Our members are closely involved with a number of patient organisations such as the macular disease society, the LHON society, and the PMR-GCA support group. The Newcastle Ophthalmology group is also well represented within major national and international organisations and some examples have been provided below.
Professor Francisco Figueiredo
Council member (Medical Contact Lens and Ocular Surface Association, MCLOSA)
Mr David Steel
Council member (British and Eire Associations of Vitreo-Retinal Surgeons, BEAVRS)
Mr James Talks
Council member (Royal College of Ophthalmologists)
Council member (Oxford Ophthalmological Congress)
Mr Patrick Yu Wai Man
Council member (European Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, EUNOS)
Council member (North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, NANOS)
Professor Lyle Armstrong
Professor of Cellular Reprogramming
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 241 8695
Professor David Burn
Pro-Vice Chancellor (Medical Sciences)
Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 7003
Reader in Ophthalmology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 282 5448
Professor Che Connon
Professor of Tissue Engineering
Telephone: T: 0191 241 8623 M: 0793 1093 063
Professor Francisco Figueiredo
Honorary Clinical Professor
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 282 5582
Professor Rita Horvath
Professor of Neurogenetics
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 241 8855
Professor Majlinda Lako
Prof of Stem Cell Science
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 241 8688
Professor Jenny Read
Professor of Vision Science
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7559
Dr Evelyne Sernagor
Reader in Developmental Neuroscience
Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 8541/8686
Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 5699065
Professor Doug Turnbull
Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8565