The Institue of Ophthalmology at UCL is a multi-disciplinary research institue with expertise in electrophysiology, psychophysics, morphology, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, histopathology, clinical ophthalmology and epidemiology. It is committed to a research programme that furthers an understanding of the eye and visual system linked with clinical investigations targeted to specific problems in the prevention and treatment of eye diseases. The Institue received the highest rating possible for its academic and research achiements in the most recent research selectivity exercise conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for UK universities. The department of Molecular Genetics within the Institue is fully resourced and equipped with the state of the art instrumentation for molecular biology oriented research. These include a large capacity for gel electrophoresis, automated DNA sequencing, ultrcentrifugation, over 30 PCR blocks, tissue culture and radioisotope l aboratories, biochemistry suite for structural and functional studies and extensive computational facility with Internet connection. The techniques of disease gene mapping, positional cloning, mutation analysis, tissue in-situ hybridisation, in-vitro mutagenesis and biochemical techniques for protein structure and functional analysis are in routine use in the department.

There are more than 30 research active staff in the department including 4 senior academics, 15 postdoctoral fellows, 3 graduate research assistants, 6 PhD students and 4 technicians.

The personnel involved in the EU programme will be:
    1. Professor Shom S. Bhattacharya (Head of Department),
    2. Dr. Annette Payne (Postdoctoral Research Fellow),
    3. Dr. Eranga Vithana (Postdoctoral Research Associate),
    4. Mr. Neil Ebenezer (Resaerch technician).
All named individuals are profecient in gene mapping, candidate gene analysis, mutation screening, bioinformatics and other techniques necessary for the project.

Two most significant recent publications:

1. Freund, C.L., Gregory-Evans, C.Y., Furukawa, T., Papaioannou, M., Looser, J., Ploder, L., Bellingham, J., Ng, D., Herbrick, J.S., Duncan, A., Scherer, S.W., Tsui, L., Loutradis-Anagnostou, A., Jacobson, S.G., Cepko, C.L., Bhattacharya, S.S. and McInnes, R.R. Cone-Rod Dystrophy due to mutations in a novel photreceptor-specific homeobox gene (CRX) essential for maintenance of the photoreceptor. Cell 91: 543-553, 1997.

2. Bessant, D.A.R., Payne, A.M., Mitton, K.P., Wang, Q-L., Swain, P.K., Plant, C., Bird, A.C., Zack, D.J., Swaroop, A. and Bhattacharya, S.S. Mutation in NRL is associated with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. Nature Genetics 21: 355-356, 1999.