UCL News


Spotlight on Dr Rosie Gilbert

14 February 2017

This week the spotlight is on Dr Rosie Gilbert, PhD Research Student and Specialist Trainee in the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Rosie Gilbert

What is your role and what does it involve?

I'm a clinical fellow in ophthalmology (eye surgery) currently doing a research PhD at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. My role balances clinical work at Moorfields Eye Hospital and laboratory research at the Institute of Ophthalmology on T-cells involved in sight-threatening inflammatory eye disease. 

I also have an interest in clinical teaching, have completed the UCL Arena One Teaching Associate Programme and teach on the UCL MSc in Clinical Ophthalmology course. In my view, personalised medicine is an exciting, rapidly developing area of research, and I participate as a member of the UCL Personalised Medicine Early Careers Network Committee to help serve the needs of early career researchers in this field.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I've been doing my PhD research at UCL for three years. Previously, I was training in eye surgery in North West England with clinical research at the University of Liverpool. I did my medical degree at Imperial College London, graduating in 2007, and I've been continuing my specialist medical and academic training since. It's a long road!

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

The 'Eating for Eye Health' public engagement project, which I initiated in 2015, was designed to raise awareness about nutrition and eye health, with a particular focus on the older generation. I'd always felt that giving a patient a diagnosis of dry age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of incurable blindness in the elderly) was a 'heart-sink' moment with limited treatment options. 'Eating for Eye Health' was designed as a community-based cookery project to help patients with this diagnosis to prepare and enjoy eating food that might be beneficial for eye health.

It was incredible that the project was recognised by an NCCPE Engage 2016 Competition Award. I really feel it wouldn't have happened had it not been for the support of UCL Culture and, in particular, the 'Train and Engage' course, designed to help students plan and deliver their own public engagement project. The project was a real team-effort, with many students at the Institute of Ophthalmology and staff at the Moorfields NIHR BRC supporting the project delivery.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

I'd really like to try and expand the "Eating for Eye Health' project with more Community Kitchen events through 2017. The influence of nutrition on the health of our eyes is going to be a really interesting area to explore and I'd like to develop a basic science research study into healthy ageing in the eye and potentially a clinical trial.

Following on from this, I've always enjoyed writing and I would love to write a book on holistic health and wellbeing that would connect with a wider audience.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

Film: Arrival (2016).

Book: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

A Buddhist walked to a hot dog stand and said: "Make me one with everything."

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Mindy Kaling (the comedian), Ellen DeGeneres (the talk show host), Jon Snow (both the journalist and the Game of Thrones character) and Chan Marshall/Cat Power (the singer).

What advice would you give your younger self?

As a younger medical trainee, I was very conscientious and concerned about conforming with a competitive and, sometimes, hostile working environment. While nested in good intention, this caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. 

I would advise the importance of being of being true to oneself and that, to be a caring and compassionate doctor, you have to make sure your own needs are taken care of first. In the words of Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken." 

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Although I'm a big advocate of healthy eating, I do enjoy the occasional KFC… I think it is important to be balanced!

What is your favourite place?

I've been lucky to visit many beautiful places in the world and, for me, there is something incredibly relaxing about looking out onto a natural expanse of water. From the cliffs of Big Sur, California you can see the curvature of the earth as you look out across the Pacific. Closer to home, I would recommend Marazion in Cornwall - I love the view from there over to St Michael's Mount.