UV Radiation and Corneal Damage Research Scholarship
The Centre for Inflammation currently has a full-time postgraduate scholarships available for suitably qualified candidates with a strong Honours degree (or equivalent) in biomedical science, pharmacology, chemistry, biomedical engineering or pharmacy to undertake research studies leading to a PhD focused on how UV radiation damages the cornea.
Along with the skin, the cornea is the tissue most exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sunlight. The outermost cells, which form a multilayered epithelium, absorb much of the UVR and must deal with its damaging effects to maintain a normal shape and clarity; otherwise, vision impairing conditions such as keratoconus and ocular cancers can arise. We have found that low levels of UVR, equivalent to 80 minutes of Sydney sunshine, cause corneal epithelial cells to increase proliferation and shedding from the surface, while maintaining tissue structure and clarity. However, chronic exposure to these low levels of UV radiation can contribute to a condition called keratoconus, which can require corneal transplants or lead to blindness if untreated.
This project will investigate the signalling pathways by which corneal epithelia cells respond to UVR and the basic mechanisms by which epithelial stratification occurs. It will use advanced fluorescence microscopy of living corneas to visualise epithelial cells as they divide, migrate and stratify. The corneas from novel reporter strains of genetically modified mice will be used to locate and measure signalling responses in the living tissue, and probed with pathway-specific drugs to determine their importance.