UCL Institute of Ophthalmology



The Institute of Ophthalmology is a vibrant and stimulating learning environment in which to carry out postgraduate research. Postgraduate students are supervised by internationally renowned experts in their field with access to state-of-the-art laboratories. In addition, our close contacts with clinicians in Moorfields Eye Hospital allows for rapid translation of basic research to address clinically relevant eye diseases and disorders.

Postgraduate students at the Institute are fully integrated into university life at UCL and will benefit, academically and personally, from the services and facilities of the university’s Graduate School, plus accessing social and sporting facilities through the UCL Union.

There are two main types of research degree opportunities:

PhD Studentships provide funding that cover tuition fees, student living expenses and often some research expenses. Usually they will have been awarded to specific supervisors or programmes. Any Institute of Ophthalmology studentships will be featured here, but you may also want to regularly check relevant websites.

Studentships Available

We are currently recruiting for a funded PhD studentship.

Dept/School: Institute of Ophthalmology

Project Supervisors: Dr Patric Turowski and Prof Pete Coffey

Funding Availability: Directly funded project (European/UK Students Only)

Application Deadline: 7 July, 2017 

Ideal start date: 1 September, 2017

How to apply: Application is by CV and covering letter (including motivation for applying) emailed to p.turowski@ucl.ac.uk


This project is aimed at characterising the mitochondrial dynamics in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE constitutes a protective cell layer in the eye located at the back of the retina. RPE mitochondria are crucial for dealing with the chronic accumulation of retinal waste. We have identified a novel family of proteins, ARMCX, which appear key to mitochondrial health and dynamics and propose to study how they regulate RPE function. The successful candidate will be using cutting edge technology, in particular cell and mitochondrial biology, molecular genetic, biochemistry, live cell microscopy and electron microscopy.  


All of the research will be conducted at UCL with the majority at the IOO. The IOO is one of the world’s leading centres of vision research. It is closely associated with Moorfield’s Eye Hospital (MEH) and the NIHR- funded BRC for Ophthalmology to ensure a strong focus on translational research and exceptional research and training opportunities. The IOO is part of the UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS), a UK leader in medical and health research. In the REF2014 UCL came out on top in terms of overall research strength. UCL also has the greatest amount of 4* research in medicine and biological sciences. Overall this makes UCL and the IOO one of the best possible training environments for a PhD. The IOO is a major training centre for postgraduate students, with currently over 100 registered PhD/MD students. Students receive mentorship and training in transferable skills. Regular student meetings and social activities are organised by the students’ rep committee to foster a sense of community and regular exchange of their experiences. The IOO is committed to championing equality and has won a Silver Athena Swan award in 2013.

Dr Turowski is an internationally–recognised expert in cell biology and signalling. To date he has supervised 10 PhD/MD and 7 MSc/MRes students. Key achievements have been published in IOVS, J Cell Sci, Mol Biol Cell, Dev Cell and PNAS.

Ideal person specification

  • A good degree (2.1 or above; or equivalent EU/overseas degree) in a biology/neuroscience/biomedical subject area, and in addition ideally a MSc in a related area.  
  • Interested in cell biology and eye diseases as well as translational research  
  • Excellent experimental skills, preferably in mitochondrial biology, and in molecular and cellular biology  
  • Good analytical/mathematical skills, preferably with some knowledge of bioinformatics approaches.  
  • Good communication skills 

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded for 3 years by Moorfields Eye Charity. It will cover UK/EU UCL PhD tuition fees and an annual salary stipend at £19,500 with laboratory consumable specific to the project of £8,071 per year.

Speculative opportunities - If you can’t find a studentship in a research project that interests you or you have your own funding, the best way to find a PhD project is to approach a potential supervisor directly. Exceptional students, that meet the entrance requirements, are encouraged to be proactive to identify opportunities with UCL academics whose recent research closely matches their interests.

A summary of the research interests of each of our supervisors can be found on the webpage of each principal investigator.

You may also wish to:

  • browse the UCL's online Graduate Prospectus to find centres of research in your area of interest. Click through to the department or centre website to find staff profiles.
  • search our online research repository (UCL Discovery) where UCL’s research papers are published, subject to approvals. If you identify a research paper that particularly interests you it is likely that one of the authors would be a suitable research supervisor.

If an academic is very impressed with your research experience and proposal they may be able to help you to identify sources of funding, including from their own, or departmental, research funds. There are also UCL scholarships that they can nominate you for.