Presentation at Rare Disease Day ConferenceMarch 2014
At the recent Joint North South Rare Disease Day Conference on 28th February in Riddel Hall, Belfast, Sarah Atkinson presented her research to clinicians, scientists, policy makers and people living with rare diseases. Giving an opportunity to feedback and connect with sufferers of rare diseases on the latest research. Sarah attended the conference along with Tara Moore, Andrew Nesbit and PhD students David Courtney and Eleonora Maurizi.
Vision Science Research Group are attending ARVO 2014March 2014
This years ARVO meeting in Orlando, Florida will be attended by a good contingent from the Ulster Vision Science Research Group. David Courtney will be giving an oral presentation on his PhD study while his supervisors Tara and Johnny Moore will deliver a poster presentation at the world’s largest eye conference with over 20,000 delegates attending. Theses presentations are in the ‘Corneal dystrophies and genetics’ session and cover research carried out during the last year by the group into TGFBI related corneal dystrophies, with Johnny focusing on investigating the pathomechanism of the disease and David demonstrating the potential of siRNAs in the treatment of these conditions.
An additional 3 posters will be presented by Julie-Anne Little, Pamela Anketell and Lesley Doyle. They will be presenting related work in accommodative deficits in Autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome populations. One presentation relates to clinical measures of accommodative function, while the latter two report laboratory-based testing. By means of a customised infrared eccentric photorefraction system, accommodative and vergence performance under continuous measurement conditions gives a detailed and novel insight into the typical accommodative behaviour in these two special needs populations
Ulster Vision Scientists invited to speak at the World Gene Convention 2013 ChinaNovember 2013
Tara Moore was invited to chair a session discussing siRNAs at the recent World Gene Convention 2013 in Haikou, China. The group also delivered two presentations, one by Tara and another by second year PhD student David Courtney. A number of new collaborations were established during this event and subsequently new experimentation is currently underway within Ulster which were not previously possible. During some down time Tara happily immersed herself in the local culture and really seemed to enjoy the chinese bamboo dancing! Although she was not quite as good at it as all the natives.
Prestigious Churchill Fellowship awarded to group memberFebruary 2014
David Courtney has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to enable him to travel out of the UK for a period of up to 8 weeks, to a laboratory of his choosing, to learn techniques that will further his PhD studies within Ulster.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established after Sir Winston Churchill’s death in 1965 as a living memorial to benefit future generations of British people.
Each year over 100 British citizens are awarded Fellowships for a wide range of projects. Their purpose is to widen an individual’s experience, to help growth in confidence, knowledge, authority and ambition and to bring benefit to others in the UK through sharing the results of the experience.
A Fellow is fully funded to travel overseas for between 4-8 weeks. Past award winners include nurses, artists, scientists, engineers, farmers, conservationists, carers, craft workers, artisans, members of the emergency services, sportsmen and women and young people.
This year there were 1,182 applicants of which 255 were interviewed in London. David was one of 137 applicants out of the 1182 who applied to be awarded a fellowship and the Vision Science Research Group are extremely proud of David.
Best Post Doctoral Poster Presentation awarded to Vision Science Group memberFebruary 2014
Dr Sarah Atkinson was awarded the prize for best Post-doctoral poster presentation at the recent 16th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Irish Society of Human Genetics at Belfast City Hospital. Her poster on the development of therapeutic siRNAs generated exciting discussions with her fellow delegates
Young investigator award for best postgraduate oral presentationFebruary 2014
David Courtney recently presented his research at the Irish Society of Human Genetics 2013 where he won the young investigator award for best postgraduate oral presentation. Courtesy of the Irish Society of Human Genetics David will attend the 2014 conference in Milan where he will present the recent data obtained during his PhD studies with Tara Moore.
Fight for Sight UK fund a second Project Grant for the Moore Research Team at UlsterFebruary 2014
The Vision Science Research team at Ulster have successfully obtained a further 3 years funding to continue their innovative research into the development of genetic tools to modify the front of the eye and potentially eliminate blindness caused by a number of eye disorders.
The project involves In vivo proof-of-concept for two gene silencing technologies in the dominantly inherited corneal dystrophies. Most CD is inherited in a dominant fashion, which means that the person with the disease has one normal copy of the gene and one abnormal copy. Half of their children, regardless of gender, will get the disease, adding further distress to the affected patients.
This form of eye disease is currently incurable except for possible grafting of donor corneal material which in itself is problematic due to the possibility of transfer of transmissible diseases e.g. CJD and the life-long risk of rejection.
These studies will provide a major advance in therapeutic translational research for CD, with far-reaching implications for additional inherited eye diseases and other organ systems.
Charitable exhibition with the Andean Medical MissionFebruary 2014
Tara Moore and her husband Consultant Ophthalmologist Professor Johnny Moore are heading up the Amazon River on a charitable exhibition with the Andean Medical Mission; a UK charity within the Bolivian Andes and Amazon. Johnny will lead a surgical unit carrying out sight saving eye surgery on people who are unable to access Ophthalmologists. While in Bolivia, they will also be investigating the genetics of Pterygium; an overgrowth of tissue in the eye, which can affect vision. Along with geneticist Andrew Nesbit, they will compare the occurrence of Pterygium in Bolivia with cases found in Northern Ireland patients.
New Lecturer attends workshop on data analysis to facilitate stratification of eye diseasesFebruary 2014
In February, Sarah Atkinson attended a workshop on next generation sequencing and microarray data analysis in Belfast run by Partek. These techniques generate huge amounts of data and the aim of the course was to provide researchers with a deeper understanding of the processes involved in data analysis. Sarah will use the insight gained at the workshop to interpret the information obtained from patients’ samples, allowing improved diagnosis and treatment of hereditary conditions.
A Japanese chapterFebruary 2014
During the first three months of her PhD Eleonora Maurizi had the opportunity to travel to Japan in order to improve her expertise in corneal endothelial cell culture, subject of her research since her MSc graduation thesis.
In Japan she worked alongside the group of Prof Koizumi at Doshisha University of Kyoto, pioneer in this specific field of research.
She also had the possibility to join the Kyoto International Workshop for Visual Science 2013, attend some of the Prof. Kinoshita ophthalmological visits in KPUM (Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine) and some surgical operations in Japan Baptist Hospital in Kyoto and visit CiRA (Center for iPS Research Applications) directed by Dr. Yamanaka.
The cultural exchange together with her professional growth is what made the three months spent in Japan a unique formative experience. Eleonora has now returned to the Vision Science Research Group to continue her PhD studies with Tara Moore.
Incurable is not a word a parent ever wants to hearJanuary 2014
Researchers at the University of Ulster are working closely with patients and young children who suffer from an eye condition that is slowly stealing their sight. A mother or father can carry a mutation in their DNA, which is essentially a spelling mistake in their genetic make up, which results in an eye condition known as corneal dystrophy. Unfortunately these parents live with the knowledge that at least half of their children will inherit this disease. The Moore research team at Ulster are working toward developing a novel therapy which they hope can be delivered to these patients as young children at a very young age before any severe symptoms start to develop, thus preventing the disease progressing to a blinding stage. The research is currently funded by Fight for Sight UK and Cathedral Eye Clinic Research Foundation Belfast.
Read more about Matilda’s story here
Vision & Optometry PhD opportunities 2014January 2014
Are you interested in doing a PhD?
We currently have a number of PhD projects available commencing September 2014 and we are seeking applicants.
Please find details of the vision projects below.
The deadline for application is 28th February 2014. Interested applicants are advised to make contact ASAP with the supervisors and work closely with them in preparing for the interview and submitting the application.
Applicants apply through an online submission system, by clicking on the RS1 form link
Supervisors: Dr Andrew Nesbit & Prof Tara Moore
Towards a Personalised Medicine Strategy for treatment of blinding eye diseases
Supervisors: Prof Tara Moore & Dr Sarah Atkinson
Reserve Priority Projects
Visual performance and quality of vision in multifocal intraocular lens use
Supervisors: Prof Tara Moore, Dr Raymond Beirne & Prof Johnny Moore
An evaluation of both the professional and personal impact of Optometrist Independent Prescribing in the United Kingdom
Supervisors: Dr Julie McClelland, Dr Kathy Burnett & Dr Ruth Miller
The Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction (NICER) Study Phase 4: How is the profile of refractive error in childhood changing in the 21st Century and what are the implications for eye care services
Supervisors: Prof Kathryn Saunders, Dr Karen Breslin & Dr Lisa O’Donoghue
The Special Education Eyecare (SEE) project: Exploring the Impact on Visual Health of In-School Vision Care for Children in Special Education
Supervisors: Prof Kathryn Saunders & Dr Julie McClelland