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Project information

Trachoma: addressing sight loss

Trachoma is a scarring disease of the upper eyelid. It is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Although antibiotics are available, the disease usually returns. This research aims to significantly advance the limited understanding of how and why the disease progresses.

October 2011 - September 2014

Charity information: Fight for Sight

Fight for Sight logo
  • Need


    Trachoma is a major health problem in over 50 countries and 40 million people have active trachoma, with 8.2 million in need of surgical treatment. The eyes get inflamed and scar and the upper eyelids turn inwards and the eyelashes rub on the cornea, causing pain and eventually blindness.


    This project will provide much needed information on the mechanisms involved in the progression of the disease. This will enable the identification of new targets for theraputic intervention against the disease process. This is important because it is the repeated infections which cause vision damage and blindness.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To develop a model to study trachoma tissue and identify some of the mechanisms involved.


    » This project will compare the genes from normal and trachoma cells in order to identify the major molecules that underlie the disease progression.
    » It will then identify new targets for treating the disease, and validate them in the laboratory.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the identification of new targets for treating the disease and a greater understanding of how and why the disease progresses.

  • Impact


    This project has the ability to move towards large scale trials very quickly due to existing links with several African countries. Identification of potential therapies will make a major contribution to controlling this disease. It is also anticipated that the work carried out will contribute to future interventions against this disease.


    Although unlikely, there is a risk that the PhD student recruited to carry out this research doesn't see it through. We have mitigated this risk by ensuring that the supervisors for the project are experienced and highly regarded in their fields; the facilities available are excellent; and that the research programme is challenging but achievable.


    Funders of this project will receive regular updates on Fight for Sight's progress in preventing and treating blindness. We will send an annual progress report relating to this project, detailing milestones and performance against these.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £100,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £66,316 Student costs Stipend, PhD fees and travel costs for student
      £33,684 Equipment costs Scientific equipment, computer and consumables
  • Background


    This project will be carried out in the UCL Institute of Opthalmology. The Institute has been at the forefront of vision research in the UK for more than two decades. The depth and breadth of experience, skills and knowledge of vision research at the Institute of Opthalmology are internationally recognised.


    Trachoma is a huge problem in poor rural communities within developing countries. The infection usually occurs during childhood, but progresses to eventual blindness in adulthood after several repeated infections.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Fight for Sight is the UK's leading charity dedicated to funding world-class research into the prevention and treatment of blindness and eye disease. As a member of the AMRC, all of the grant applications we receive are subjected to a robust peer review process by global experts in the field to ensure that we only fund the best eye research in UK universities and hospitals.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Maryse Bailly, Reader In Cell Biology, UCL Institute Of Ophthalmology

    Dr Bailly will be the primary supervisor for the PhD student undertaking this project. She is an expert in the study of conjunctival scarring.

    Dr Matthew Burton, Senior Lecturer, London School Of Hygiene And Tropical Medicine

    Dr Burton will be secondary supervisor. He has extensive experience of large intervention trials in the management of trachoma in African countries.

    Dr Daniel Ezra, NIHR Clinical Lecturer, UCL Institute Of Ophthalmology

    Dr Erza will be a third supervisor. He is an oculoplastics surgeon and recently obtained a prestigious NIHR Clinical Lectureship position.