UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Prof Virginia Calder

Prof Virginia Calder

Professor of Ocular Immunology

Institute of Ophthalmology

Faculty of Brain Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Aug 1995

Research summary

The focus of my research group is to understand the immune mechanisms involved in chronic inflammatory eye diseases, in order to improve therapeutic strategies. Currently steroids and cyclosporin are the mainstay immunosuppressive for treating the chronic inflammatory diseases of the retina (uveitis) and ocular surface (chronic allergic eye disease, ketaroconjunctivitis sicca). Although they can be effective in dampening the inflammation, these drugs can have serious side-effects in the eye including cataract formation and glaucoma. There is therefore a need for localised treatment to intervene on the specific immune pathways involved in this diverse range of clinical situations.

The role of effector CD4+T cell subsets and their cytokines has been investigated in experimental models and in human tissues, fluids and tissue-derived cell populations.The different porportions of TH1, TH2 and TH17 subsets, and their cytokine profiles, is a likely explanation for the varied responses of individuals to therapies, and the range of clinical severities in each subtype of disease.

We are now focussing on applying novel anti-inflammatory agents to the experimental model of uveitis, in collaboration with GSK, and in several in vitro models of ocular allergy, in collaboration with Allergan Inc., and are developing a range of experimental models of ocular allergy. The relative contribution of each cytokine will be investigated in an attempt to further unravel the molecular mechanisms involved in each subtype of ocular disease.

Teaching summary

I am a Departmental Graduate Tutor in the Faculty of Brain Sciences, and have many years experience in providing practical and pastoral care for graduate students attending the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. 

I have also considerable experience in supervising more than 30 undergraduate laboratory-based projects, as well as several students undertaking MSc, MD and PhD studies. 

I am the Programme Director for an MSc course "Translational Immunobiology".

I am the Director of four UCL Masters Modules: Ocular Immunology; Translating Science into the Clinic; Research in Practice; Basic Science for ophthalmologists.

I am the course coordinator for the FRCOpth Basic Science Revision course which is held twice yearly for ophthalmologists preparing for their FRCOphth Part 1 exams, or for the International Council of Ophthalmology Standard Examination in Basic Science.

These modules are attended by MSc students as part of the Biology of Vision MSc, the MRes in Translational Neurology, the MSc in Clinical Ophthalmology, and the MRes in Vision Research.


University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1986
University of Glasgow
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1982