Support Team

Heather Kneale

Executive Assistant to Prof. Robin Ali and Department of Genetics

Tabitha Owen  

Department Coordinator & Acting Personal Assistant to Prof. Robin Ali and Department of Genetics                 

Dr. Andi Skilton  

Ocular Gene and Cell Therapy Communications Manager                      

James Bainbridge MA PhD FRCOphth

Prof James Bainbridge

As a surgeon-scientist, Professor Bainbridge aims to help protect and promote healthy eyesight by developing effective new treatments for diseases of the retina.

Professor of Retinal Studies, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
NIHR Research Professor, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology
Consultant Ophthalmologist, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

His programme of research extends from the laboratory investigation of mechanisms of retinal disease to clinical trials of new medical and surgical interventions.


Prof. James Bainbridge

Professional history

2012-   NIHR Research Professor,   NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology
2011-    Professor of Retinal Studies    UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
2007-   Faculty Investigator   National Institute for Health Research
2007-   Diabetes Theme Leader   NIHR Biomedical Research Centre
2005-   Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist   Moorfields Eye Hospital
2005-10   Wellcome Advanced Fellow   UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London
2004-5   Clinical Fellow in Vitreoretinal Surgery   Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
2003-4   Specialist Registrar in Ophthalmology   Moorfields Eye Hospital, London 
2000-3   Wellcome Research Training Fellow   UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
1999-00   Specialist Registrar in Ophthalmology   Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
1998-9   Specialist Registrar in Ophthalmology   Charing Cross Hospital, London
1997-8   Specialist Registrar in Ophthalmology   North Middlesex Hospital, London
1996-7   Senior House Officer in Ophthalmology   Royal Eye Unit, Kingston
1995-6   Senior House Officer in Ophthalmology   St. George's Hospital, London
1994-5   Senior House Officer in Ophthalmology   Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey
1994-5   Senior House Officer in Neurosurgery   The National Hospital, Queen Sq, London
1993-4   SHO in Accident and Emergency   St. Mary's Hospital, London
1993   House Physician to Prof H Thomas     St. Mary's Hospital, London
1992-3   House Surgeon   St. Mary's Hospital, London


1989-92   St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, London    
1986-89   King's College, Cambridge    
1979-86   Queen Elizabeth's School, Faversham, Kent    


2003   PhD (Genetics)   UCL
1996   FRCOphth   Royal College of Ophthalmologists
1992   MB BChir   University of Cambridge
1989   BA   University of Cambridge

Awards and Distinctions

2009   Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors’ Award    
2008   The Fincham Medal, Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers    
2004   Moorfields Research Medal    
2003   Academy of Medical Sciences Award for Ophthalmology    
2002   Academy of Medical Sciences Young Investigator Award Finalist    
2001   The Foulds Trophy, Royal College of Ophthalmologists    
1991   Thomas Keeping Award, University of Cambridge    
1991   Mary Euphrasia Moseley Exhibition, University of Cambridge    

Learned Societies

2009-   Candidate Member, Club Jules Gonin    
2008-   Member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology    
2003-   Member of the Medical Research Society    
2003-   Member of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy    
1998-   Member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology    
1996-   Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists    
1996-   Member of the European Society of Ophthalmology    

Clinical Practice

NHS Practice 

Private Practice

Moorfields Eye Hospital

162 City Road London EC1V 2PD

Contact: Brenda Aveyard


Tel 020 7253 3411 Ext. 2576


Moorfields Eye Hospital: John Saunders Suite

9-11 Bath Street London EC1V 9LF

Contact: Carolyn Watson 


Tel 020 7253 2640

Fax 020 7566 2608

Private practice website

How to reach Moorfields

Underground: Old Street - Northern Line

From Old Street Station leave by Exit 8 and follow the green line on the pavement.

The main entrance to Moorfields Eye Hospital in on the left.

Private and overseas patients should continue along Cayton Street and turn right into Bath Street: the John Saunders Suite is the first entrance on the right.


205, 43, 214 (City Road)

141, 271, 65 (East Road)

245, 55 (Old Street)

393 (Shepherdess Walk)


The nearest mainline stations are Euston and Kings Cross; to reach Moorfields take the Undergound Northern Line to Old Street, a bus (205 from Euston, 214 from Kings Cross) or a taxi.


Professor Bainbridge’s research group is based in the Gene and Cell Therapy Group of the Department of Genetics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and works in close collaboration with Professor Robin Ali FMedSci. 

Our aim is to protect and promote healthy eyesight by research to develop effective new treatments for disorders of the retina. These include inherited disorders, age-related macular degeneration and diabetes. Our research projects extend from the laboratory investigation of basic mechanisms of disease, through experimental models to the preclinical development of novel molecular therapies and clinical trials.

green cells

Retinal disease is a major research priority

Disorders of the retina are responsible for sight loss in the 2/3 of people with eye disease in the UK and are a priority target for Moorfields’ research strategy. Age-related macular degneration (AMD) affects 1.5 million people today and is likely to affect 1.8 million by 2020. Diabetic retinopathy affects ¾ million now and is expected to affect 1 million in 2020. Retinal disease in childhood is another key priority because it currently causes lifelong disability but may be particularly amenable to novel interventions; successful proof-of-principle for new treatments in inherited childhood blindness is expected to accelerate their application to common retinal disorders of aging. 

A new era of molecular therapy in retinal disease

Physical treatments, including laser or standard surgical techniques, have been the mainstay for management of retinal disease for decades. However, these approaches are effective for only a minority of conditions and until recently the majority of blinding retinal diseases were essentially untreatable. Systematic research in recent years has led to an improved understanding of the causes of common blinding retinal disease. This is now enabling the identification of targets and opportunities for therapy. The development of rationally-designed biological, gene and cell therapies, together with rapid advances in technology for the diagnosis of retinal disease and its progression have introduced a new era of intervention. The development of targeted therapeutic antibodies, for example, is having a major impact on the outlook for people with macular degeneration and diabetes.  At Moorfields we have demonstrated proof-of-principle that gene therapy can improve sight in childhood blindness and are translating preclinical success in cell transplantation into new interventions for people with retinal degenerations. 

retinal vasculature

The retina is uniquely suited to targeted intervention

Ocular tissues can be targeted precisely using modern microsurgical techniques. Furthermore, we are able to measure the impact of intervention in the living human eye non-invasively by optical imaging at an extraordinary level of cellular and molecular detail. These features account in large part for the recent successful proof-of-concept of new molecular interventions for retinal disease that have demonstrated remarkable progress in ophthalmology. Moreover, the eye is now widely recognised for its value in investigating pathological neuro-degenerative and microvascular disease, and as an important model system for developing novel interventions.

Research Group

Professor Bainbridge’s research group is based in the Department of Genetics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology www.ucl.ac.uk/ioo and works in close collaboration with Professor Robin Ali FMedSci

Clinical Lecturers 



Ranjan Rajendram MD MRCOphth   NIHR
Neuroglobin in retinal health and disease    
Scott Robbie MRCOphth    NIHR 
Macrophages in retinal ageing and angiogenesis    

Postdoctoral Research Assistant 

Tiina Sepp PhD    NIHR 
Therapeutic antibodies for retinal vascular disease    

Clinical Research Fellows 

Clemens Lange MD PhD   NIHR 
Retinal oxygen and molecular mediators of angiogenesis    
Venki Sundaran MRCOphth   RP Fighting
Blindness UK
Clinical trial of gene therapy for retinal degeneration, MD(Res)    
Oliver Comyn MRCOphth   NIHR/Novartis
Ranibizumab in diabetic vitrectomy, MD(Res)    

Gene Therapy Clinical Trials Administrator


Sneha Haria MRes
  NIHR, Moorfields
Special Trustees

Previous Research Fellows

Freya Mowat MRCVS PhD   The Wellcome Trust 
Molecular and cellular approaches to ocular angiogenesis   Currently Post-doc Michigan, USA
Kamaljit Balaggan MRCOphth PhD   Oxford Biomedica        
Gene therapy for choroidal neovascularisation   Currently Retina Fellow, Moorfields
Scott Robbie MRCOphth   NIHR
Role of macrophages in retinal aging and disease    Currently NIHR Clinical Lecturer

Previous BSc Students

 Haroon Syed
  BSc awarded 2010
DDAH2 in retinal and choroidal neovascularisation    

Previous Visiting Fellows

Harry Bradshaw FRANZCO    
Imaging neuroglobin in the living eye    
Akiko Kogure, MD    
Oxygen in retinal detachment    
Eric Lindstedt  MD    
Oxygen in retinal detachment    
Pilar Villacampa PhD    
Ischaemia-induced retinal neovascularisation    

Eye conditions

Posterior vitreous detachment

Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a common condition that affects the majority of people with increasing age and is normally harmless.

The vitreous is an optically clear, gel-like tissue that fills much of the eye. In youth the vitreous is firmly applied to the retina, which is a sheet of light-sensitive nerves essential for sight.

With increasing age the vitreous typically becomes less cohesive and peels away from the retina. The process of vitreous detachment can proceed rapidly or very slowly. Many people experience no symptoms.


Debris within vitreous that has detached from the retina floats in front of the retina casting shadows that are perceived as ‘floaters’. Floaters can take many forms including ‘flies’, lines, circles, clouds or ‘cobwebs’. Floaters can sometimes interfere intermittently with the ability to read clearly. Floaters can persist for some months but generally become less noticeable given time.

Flashing lights

As the vitreous detaches from the retina, mechanical stimulation of light-sensitive nerves is perceived as flashing lights (‘photopsia’). Flashing lights typically resolve once the process of vitreous detachment is complete.

Retinal tears and retinal detachment

Occasionally, traction of the vitreous at points of firm attachment to the retina can cause tears in the retina. Even small retinal tears can bleed into the vitreous, causing dense floaters, and can allow fluid in the vitreous to leak behind the retina causing detachment of the retina that threatens sight. Retinal detachment is typically perceived as a dense ‘shadow’ or ‘curtain’ that progressively obscures the sight in one eye.

The onset of new floaters, flashing lights or loss of vision justifies prompt specialist assessment to exclude sight-threatening retinal tears or detachment.

Treatment of retinal tears and retinal detachment

If recognised promptly, retinal tears can often be treated effectively using laser alone. Retinal detachment can usually be repaired effectively by surgery, which typically involves removal of the vitreous (vitrectomy), laser treatment to seal the tear, and injection of a bubble of temporary gas to keep the retina in place while it heals.

Eye surgery

Vitrectomy surgery

Vitrectomy surgery is keyhole surgery involving removal of the vitreous gel to enable repair of retinal disorders including tears and detachment. The vitreous is replaced by fluid.

Vitrectomy surgery can be performed using local anaesthetic, sedation or general anaesthetic. Daycase surgery is routine but an overnight stay in hospital can be convenient for some people.

A bubble of gas may be injected to support the retina while it heals. A specific position may be advised to make the best use of the bubble. The presence of gas obscures sight but, as the bubble is absorbed during a period of 2 to 6 weeks, sight can be expected to improve. Normal activities  and air travel can be safely resumed once the gas bubble has been fully absorbed.

Discomfort and redness are common during recovery, especially if stitches have been used. Eyedrops are routinely prescribed for up to 4 weeks to help minimise inflammation and prevent infection. An eye shield may be used at night for comfort if desired.

Sight and comfort can be expected to improve progressively. Most people return to the clinic for routine review 1-2 weeks following vitrectomy surgery.

Deterioration in sight or comfort following surgery justifies urgent specialist advice.


UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Professor Robin Ali

Professor Fred Fitzke

Professor John Greenwood

Professor Graham Holder

Professor Phil Luthert

Mr Michel Michaelides

Professor Steve Moss

Professor Tony Moore

Dr Rachel Pearson

Professor Gary Rubin

Professor Christiana Ruhrberg

Professor Dave Shima

Professor Andrew Stockman

Mr Andrew Webster


UCL Division of Medicine

  Professor Patrick Maxwell

UCL Institute of Child Health

  Professor Jane Sowden

UCL Dept Engineering

  Professor Nick Tyler

Imperial College London

  Dr James Leiper

University of Bristol


Professor Andrew Dick

Professor Dave Bates

Professor Steve Harper


Michigan State University

  Professor Simon Petersen-Jones

Page last modified on 23 jan 13 10:24