SLMS Academic Careers Office

3. Treating retinal inflammation: bridging the divide between common problems in the eye and the brain

Supervisor Pair: Glen Jeffrey and Kenneth Smith
Potential Student’s Home Department: Institute of Opthalmology

Inflammation is an umbrella feature of ageing and a wide spectrum of eye diseases. Commonly it is associated with reduced mitochondrial function, where ATP output declines and reactive oxygen species (ROS) increases. These changes form the basis of many theories of ageing.

Ageing and disease progression are related to metabolic demand, and the retina has the greatest demand in the body, with significant age related inflammation and cell loss that can tip over into diseases such as age related macular degeneration (AMD). The retina is also the only part of the CNS that can be viewed directly in vivo, and it is possible to see the impact of ageing directly here.

The aims of this project will be to image the living retina with state of the art technology present at the Institute of Ophthalmology (IOO) that will allow us to assess inflammation and changes in mitochondrial function with molecular technologies developed at the Department of Neuroinflammation at UCL’s Institute of Neurology (ION). Currently the IOO is a world leader in retinal imaging technology and the ION has cutting edge techniques that can be employed in the eye, providing unique opportunities to address major questions in ageing and disease.

Once we have established these techniques we will use novel techniques to moderate mitochondrial function in order to increase ATP production and reducing ROS output, with the aim of combating age related changes and disease progression.