Ophthalmology, visual and circadian sciences
Oxford has long been a distinguished centre of ophthalmic and visual research since the foundation of the Oxford Eye Hospital in 1886 by Robert Doyne, and the establishment of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology (NLO) in 1942 thanks to a generous endowment from Lord Nuffield. In 1945, the NLO had the distinction of being the first department at the University of Oxford to offer a professorship to a woman, Dame Ida Mann, a distinguished ophthalmologist who subsequently was made a CBE (1950) and DBE (1980) in addition to her many other honours and distinctions. Today the NLO is led by Professor Russell Foster CBE, who also leads the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNI).
Research undertaken by the NLO, SCNI and related units at Oxford investigates the dual function of the eye for vision as well as for the regulation of sleep and natural circadian rhythms. Basic scientific research is undertaken at the genetic and physiological levels in addition to the development of novel clinical treatments. Oxford is a leading centre of retinal gene therapy research and development, with a number of retinal gene therapies either already being tested in clinical trials or shortly to be so. Promising clinical trials are also being undertaken of visual prosthetic devices such electronic retinas and ‘smart glasses’.
Today the NLO and the Oxford Eye Hospital are located in close proximity to each other at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, providing an ideal link between a leading research facility and a high quality clinical facility and thus facilitating the translation of ocular research from bench to bedside. In this highly integrated and interdisciplinary environment, a unique ecosystem has been created in which research, teaching, clinical training and clinical care interact, thereby permitting new approaches to the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of ocular disorders.