2018 Ian Constable Lecture

5 September 2018

Andrew Dick

The Annual Ian Constable Lecture is presented by the Institute of Advanced Studies and the Lions Eye Institute.

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A Tale of Two Diseases: regulating immune responses in the retina

The 2018 Ian Constable Lecture by Professor Andrew Dick, Director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Our immune system does not operate solely to protect against infection, cancer and tissue damage. The immune system has evolved so that many cells, both of the immune system and non-immune cells in all tissues, have an ability to generate immune responses that regulate and maintain normal cellular, tissue and organ function. Activated and overactive immune responses are observed in many blinding non-infectious disorders. The eye is endowed with an exquisite network of cells capable of regulating function of the ocular tissues compartments (such as the retina and cornea). However, two diseases I will discuss demonstrate how the dysregulation in the immune system generates blinding disease. The first is uveitis, a general and non-specific clinical term to describe inflammation inside the eye and the second is age-related macular degeneration. This talk will describe how our understanding has led to step changes in treatments in children and adults with uveitis and the current research on how the diseases inform our understanding of immune responses that maintain normal tissue function by regulating metabolism and cell function. 

Professor Andrew Dick is a clinician scientist and immunobiologist. He is Director of the UCL-Institute of Ophthalmology where he is Duke Elder Professor of Ophthalmology. He is also Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Bristol, UK, where he previously was Director of Research for Medicine and Dentistry. He is also on the Faculty and is Theme Lead for Inflammation and Immunotherapeutics of National Health Institute for Research Biomedical Research Centre, Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL-Institute of Ophthalmology, London. He qualified in medicine and with a degree in Biochemistry (BSc (Hons)) from the University of London, and during his medical education he spent time as an MRC sponsored research associate in Biochemistry with Professor Coleman in Yale. Later, he was a MRC Post-Doctoral Fellow with Jon Sedgwick at the Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology in Sydney Australia.

Professor Dick is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK an Alcon Research Institute Research awardee and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biologists, UK. He has previously been Editor of British Journal of Ophthalmology, President of European Vision and Eye Research (EVER), Master of Oxford Ophthalmological Congress and current Vice-President for Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

Professor Dick’s clinical expertise is in inflammatory disorders of the eye and aligned is his research that spans the basic and translational science conduit to early phase trials in inflammation as related to autoinflammatory, autoimmune and degenerative retinal disease. His labs science has discovered mechanisms that has led to conducting several pivotal RCTs in uveitis. His current work is developing further molecular signatures to refine diagnosis and developing personalized therapies for uveitis as well as fundamental research in understanding the regulation of inflammatory responses in the retina and how they attenuate with age and alter in age-related macular degeneration.

The Ian Constable Lecture

This annual lecture is presented by the Lions Eye Institute and the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies and honours the work of Professor Ian Constable. Professor Constable is recognised as one of the world’s leading ophthalmic surgeons. He was appointed the Lions Foundation Chair of Ophthalmology in 1975. In 1983 Professor Constable established the Lions Eye Institute (LEI) dedicated to the prevention and treatment of blindness and eye disease. Today the LEI is a not-for-profit centre of excellence that combines world class scientific research into the prevention of blindness with the highest level of eye care delivery, combining the expertise of researchers and ophthalmologists.