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23 May 2012

Hands across the sea to fight inflammatory eye diseases

Two of the world's most prestigious eye health research institutions in Britain and America have joined forces to study and combat some of the most common eye diseases. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol, has entered into a Consortium agreement with the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the American National Institutes of Health.

The Consortium was formally launched on 22 May during a visit hosted by Professor Peng Tee Khaw, Director of Research and Development, Moorfields Eye Hospital.  He is also the director of the BRC and President of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

He said: "It was a tremendous pleasure to meet our distinguished American friends and colleagues. We are all convinced that the Consortium agreement we have made to promote human ocular immunology, specifically to encourage the transfer of technologies, scholars and biomaterials for the study of uveitis, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, will greatly enhance our efforts to better understand and combat these common and often devastating eye diseases."

Professor Andrew Dick, Faculty Research Director in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol and Theme Lead for Inflammation and Immunotherapy at the NIHR Moorfields BRC, said:  "This Consortium truly combines transatlantic research excellence to deliver cutting-edge advances in the fight against inflammatory eye diseases."

Dr Richard Lee, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital and the University of Bristol and at the NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre added: "This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring British and American patients together."

Representing the US NEI were Dr Gyan Prakash, Associate Director International Programs at the NEI and Dr Robert Nussenblatt, Chief of the Laboratory of Immunology, NEI.

Dr Russell Hamilton, Director of Research and Development at the UK Department of Health also welcomed the agreement. The party also toured and inspected the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment at the NIHR Research and Treatment Centre.