UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Prof Stephen Moss

Prof Stephen Moss

Ashton Professor of Biomedical Research

Institute of Ophthalmology

Faculty of Brain Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2000

Research summary

For many years our lab focused on an investigation of proteins of the annexin family. Annexins are an evolutionarily conserved multigene family with multiple roles, and through this work we developed cell biological approaches to vesicle trafficking, phospholipid metabolism, actin dynamics, apoptosis and cell transformation (tumours). More recently the focus in the lab has switched to angiogenesis, and particularly the abnormal pathological angiogenesis that characterises the wet form of age-related macular disease (AMD), and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

In a project co-directed with John Greenwood we undertook a gene expression analysis of abnormal blood vessels isolated from the retinas of four rodent models of retinal vascular disease. We found a set of genes conserved within these models, several of which were either of unknown function or previously had no known link to angiogenesis. So far we have begun investigations into three of these genes and have identified one, namely LRG1, as being a critical regulator of the angiogenic activity of TGFbeta. Work on LRG1 has led to us filing several patent applications in regard to its suitability as a target for anti-angiogenic therapies, and in funding obtained from the MRC we are currently developing a humanised blocking monoclonal antibody against LRG1 that we intend to take to a phase I/IIa clinical trial in 2016.

Other work in lab is aimed at understanding the roles of complement proteins and complement-mediated cell attack in the retinal pigment epithelium. This is highly relevant to AMD, where variants in several complement genes are linked to disease susceptibility.


Heriot-Watt University
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1986
Napier University , Edinburgh
HND/HNC, Higher National Certificate | 1982


I hold the Norman Ashton Chair of Biomedical Research at the Institute of Ophthalmology, where for eight years I was head of the Division of Cell Biology. I my PhD from Heriot-Watt University in 1986, before moving to a research fellowship at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now CRUK) labs in central London where I developed an interest in the annexin protein family. In 1990 I took up a Lectureship in the Department of Physiology at University College London, progressing to a Readership in 1995 and then to a Chair in 2000 upon my move to the Institute. During the last 20 years my work on the annexin protein family has led me into such diverse areas as cardiovascular biology, inflammatory disease, cancer and diabetes. Landmarks in my research on this topic include cloning of the first annexin gene, and generation of the first annexin gene knock-out. This work, in conjunction with studies using mutant annexins and live cell imaging, have provided insight into the roles of these important proteins, in cell motility, stimulus-response coupling and programmed cell death.


Since moving to the Institute of Ophthalmology in 2000 to set up a new Division of Cell Biology my interest has shifted to the retinal cell biology, particularly with regard to the regulation of phagocytic function in the retinal pigment epithelium, and also the control of vascular endothelial cell growth and permeability. My research is funded by the MRC, BBSRC, BHF and GSK. I have served on the editorial boards of several journals, I am a member of many learned societies and I was a founding member of the International Society for Ocular Cell Biology. I am an ex-President of the European Calcium Society and I am currently Vice-Dean for Enterprise in the Faculty of Brain Sciences.