UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Professor Francesca Cordeiro

Professor Francesca Cordeiro

Professor of Retinal Neurodegeneration and Glaucoma Studies

Institute of Ophthalmology

Faculty of Brain Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Nov 2001

Research summary

The aims of my groups work are to: To provide innovative imaging tools (such as DARC) for the early diagnosis and identification of blinding conditions such as: Glaucoma Diabetic eye disease Retinal detachment and Macular degeneration To offer meaningful endpoints and investigate novel therapeutic approaches in neuroprotection and sight-saving strategies in the eye To promote the eye as a window for the rest of the brain with particular reference to Alzheimers disease These are to be achieved using novel non-invasive techniques to assess structural and functional changes in different models of disease and their treatment, with a view to offering quick and effective translation to the clinical arena, enabled through my post as an Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist. DARC offers the opportunity to image changes occurring in retinal nerve cells apoptosing over hours, days and months, will potentially provide a powerful new clinical tool with which to diagnose and identify patients with early glaucoma before they lose vision, and opens the door to directly observing effects of therapeutic strategies in glaucoma using meaningful endpoints that are based on the direct assessment of RGC death. It may also serve as a surrogate biomarker of outcome in glaucoma clinical studies, dramatically reducing the duration of such trials that currently rely on the use of visual field status as a key endpoint. Nerve cell loss is implicated in chronic and devastating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease. There is increasing evidence that similar mechanisms in the eye and the brain cause the development of this nerve cell loss. This suggests that the processes of cell death occurring in the eye may be an indicator of, or window on, cell death occurring in other parts of the brain. We have already shown that it is possible to assess therapeutic and sight-saving strategies using our methods and this has great implications in the testing and validation of neuroprotective regimens in all aspects of neurodegeneration including Alzheimers Disease. We have also recently begun investigating the importance of retinal neurodegeneration in diabetic retinopathy. Current thinking suggests that an early event in retinopathy that precedes ischaemia and neovascularisation is nerve cell loss. Retinal neuronal apoptosis may therefore be an valuable screening and diagnostic marker. We shortly commence a proof-of-principle clinical trial not only in glaucoma patients. Our final aim is to establish an apoptotic index of cell degeneration with which individuals can be diagnosed and also monitored to assess treatment response or progression rates. This may help negate or avoid visual loss ever occurring in the first place, as the use of DARC in these patients will be as a screening investigation to help identify patients with early disease.

Teaching summary

She has been Graduate Tutor at UCL, and is currently Academic representative on the ARCP Ophthalmology Panel for North London Deanery. She is an Educational Supervisor at Western Eye Hospital and teaches on the Clinical Ophthalmology MSc Course at UCL. She regularly supervisers PhD, MSc and iBSc students and enjoys mentoring clinical scientists at UCl and Imperial College. She is Research Lead at the Western Eye Hospital, and oversees the presentation of trainee research projects.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1998
Royal College of Ophthalmologists
Doctorate, Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists | 1992
Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Member of the Royal College of Physicians | 1990
St Bartholomews Hospital
Doctorate, Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery | 1987


Professor M Francesca Cordeiro, is a clinician scientist. She currently heads the "Glaucoma and Retinal Neurodegeneration Research Group" at the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, and is Professor of Ophthalmology at Imperial College of London. She is an Honorary Glaucoma Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Western Eye Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, where she is Director of the Clinical Trials Research Unit, Chairman of ICORG (Imperial College Ophthalmic Research Group).


She qualified in medicine from St Bartholomew’s Hospital University of London and completed training in general and surgical ophthalmology at Moorfield’s Eye & St Thomas’ Hospitals in London in 2003, following her PhD at UCL in 1998.


Her research is focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in either the treatment or pathogenesis of retinal neurodegenerative diseases, including glaucoma, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The aims of her group’s work are to establish new methods of diagnosis of early disease to avoid disability, identify early markers of cell processes in neurodegenerative disease and investigate therapeutic approaches including novel modes of drug delivery and improved treatment strategies. She has investigated novel and translational approaches to these problems, and has received a number of awards for her work including Research to Prevent Blindness International Research Scholar Award USA in 2014, an Allergan Glaucoma Achievement Award 2010, the Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize 2005 from the New York Academy of Medicine, the 2000 International Glaucoma Review Award, and the 1998 Moorfields Research Gold Medal.


Her research has been funded by the Wellcome Trust since 1996, including a Vision Research Fellowship, a University Award, and most recently a Welllcome Translational Award for the DARC Project.


She serves on a number of international committees including the European Glaucoma Society and EVER and  has a special interest  in neuroprotection in glaucoma and neurodegenerative diseases, and currently chairs the EGS Neuroprotection SIG. She is on the Editorial Board of various journals including Investigative Ophthalmology, Experimental Eye Research and Scientifica. She has been graduate tutor at UCL and teaches modules for both under and post-graduates.