UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Dr Matthew James Branch

Dr Matthew James Branch

Research Associate

Institute of Ophthalmology

Faculty of Brain Sciences

Joined UCL
19th Oct 2015

Research summary

Matt's research is focused around the differentiation of retinal cells (photoreceptors) from human pluirpotent stem cells. In particular he is developing a GMP grade culture system for the production of these cells for clinical therapy.

Teaching summary

Matt has taught many staff and students in the laboratory over the years. He has co-supervised PhD student projects and successfully conceived, planned and supervised undergraduate and masters research projects as lead or co-supervisor. He has delivered lectures on MSc courses in Stem Cell Technologies and Biology of Vision. Previously Matt has acted as outreach coordinator organising and supervising departmental work experience placements as well as participating at regional outreach events.


Matt graduated from the University of Liverpool with a BSc (Hons) in genetics in 2005 and subsequently worked for a couple of commercial laboratories mostly in quality assurance and control.

In 2008, he gained his MSc in Molecular Medicine from the University of Sheffield, specialising in the ‘experimental medicine’ pathway; his research project involved structure and function analysis of T5 flap endonucleases. 

In 2013, Matt completed his PhD at the University of Nottingham. The project, entitled ‘Mesenchymal Stem Cells and the Ocular Surface’ focused on understanding how an MSC therapy may be applied to treat a corneal injury, and what role MSC may play in ocular surface regeneration. It also involved work on amniotic membrane as a biological bandage and scaffold for cell culture and delivery. Subsequently, he undertook a 3 year post-doctoral position continuing this work. This translational project lead to him being awarded a Hermes Innovation Fellowship to explore commercialisation avenues generated by his research. This lead to co-founding a spin-out company where he worked on product and process development, and regulatory issues. His role within the company helped him develop an understanding in clinical, regulatory, and commercial requirements for translating a biotechnology from academia all the way through to the clinic.

Looking for a chance to use his diverse skill set in a new setting, Matt in 2015 joined UCL as a post-doctoral researcher in Prof. Robin Ali’s laboratory. His work is involved in development of GMP conditions for the manufacturing of the team's pluripotent stem cell technologies.