Ophthalmology Research Unit

Established in 2013, the Ophthalmology Unit at the Gallipoli Medical Research Institute is the largest ophthalmologist led research unit in Queensland.  The unit’s research focus is on optimising next generation targeted therapeutics for the intravitreal treatment of currently blinding or fatal medical retinal conditions.    

The unit has developed a complete bench to bedside development pipeline, from high technology discovery work of targeted therapeutics in cell culture systems to unit sponsored clinical trials.


Awards and Funding

  • Best poster: European Association for Vision and Eye Research (EVER), Nice, France 2015
  • Best poster: European Association for Vision and Eye Research (EVER), Nice, France 2016
  • Best poster: Oxford Eye Congress, OxfordUnited Kingdom

Scientific Ophthalmology Infrastructure

  • 580 m2 PC2 rated laboratory including
    • next generation gene sequencing
    • flow cytometry
    • confocal and high throughput automated microscopy
  • 1000 m2 clinical retinal ophthalmology facility, including angiography suite, spatial domain OCT, ophthalmic photography, argon, YAG and SLT laser
  • Animal and human retinal electrophysiology
  • Australian Diabetic Retinopathy Biobank

Our projects

Current Medical Retina Projects:


Vascular disorders of the Retina and Choroid

  1. Penetrative intraviteal anti-angiogenic gene therapy approaches for sub-RPE choroidal neovascularisation in exudative macular degeneration
  2. The Australian Diabetic Retinopathy Biobank
  3. Targeted intravitreal gene therapy for Diabetic Retinopathy
  4. Incidence and prevalence of adeno-associated virus antibodies in the type 1 diabetic population and association with diabetic retinopathy
  5. Circulating miRNA makers of diabetic retinopathy: a 5 year study
  6. Quantifying human clinical markers of diabetic retinal neuropathy
  7. Case controlled clinical trial of systemic erythropoietin treatment of diabetic retinal neuropathy in humans
  8. 5 year longitudinal study of serum erythropoietin levels in type 1 diabetic patients with diabetic retinopathy

Ocular Oncololgy, Uveitis and Ocular Genetics

  1. Penetrative intravitreal suicide gene therapy for the treatment of uveal melanoma
  2. Intravitreal modulated immunotherapy for severe choroidal inflammation
  3. Genetic sequencing and pathogenesis of uveal melanoma
  4. Australian trends in the epidemiology of uveal melanoma

 Ophthalmology - View our Publications


Our team

Chris Layton

Associate Professor Christopher Layton

A/Professor Layton is a prominent Australian medical retina specialist with a record of distinguished achievement and contribution in both clinical and research ophthalmology. He is a Rhodes Scholar, was trained in research ophthalmology at the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at Oxford University and is now the Director of the Ophthalmology Unit at the Gallipoli Medical Research Institute.

A/Professor Layton is lead investigator for multiple clinical trials and discovery projects in diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, and is the founder and head of the Australian Diabetic Retinopathy Biobank. He presents on both clinical and research topics internationally and has received several international awards for his work in ophthalmology.

A/Professor Layton contributes to the community as the current Chairman of the Layton Vision Foundation, a charity dedicated to translating eye research and access to ophthalmic services in the Pacific Islands.

Please click here to read A/Professor Layton's profile with the University of Queensland.

Charmaine Ramlogan-Steel

Charmaine A. Ramlogan-Steel

Charmaine obtained her medical degree at the American International School of Medicine in Georgetown, Guyana. Following medical school, she spent 2 years undergoing postdoctoral training in cancer immunology at the National Cancer Institute, USA working under Professor John Morris, where she worked on the development and testing of new vaccines in mice and humans.

In 2010 she moved to the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine as a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Professor George Atweh where she examined the role of Stathmin in blood formation for three years. On moving to Australia, Charmaine has been involved in the research at the Liver Cancer Research unit at GMRF. Charmaine is currently an Honorary Research Fellow with the Ophthalmology Research Unit at GMRF under Assoc. Prof. Chris Layton where she is working on all things eyes

Amanda Goh

Amanda Goh

Amanda is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and is currently undertaking her medical training at Greenslopes Private Hospital. She received the Alexander and Elizabeth Raff Memorial Scholarship in 2015 and is currently a University of Queensland Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship and University of Queensland Research Scholarship recipient. Under the supervision of A/Professor Christopher Layton, she has completed a literature review on the evolving systemic treatments for choroidal melanoma and is undertaking a Masters degree in the genetic mutations related to early death in choroidal melanoma.

Sean Jenkins

Sean Jenkins

Sean is a postdoctorate clinical researcher in the Ophthalmology Research Unit at the Gallipoli Medical Research Institute. Sean has trained in scientific approaches to medical problems in Canada and Australia, and completed a science degree with honours at the University of Toronto and a Masters of Health Economics at the University of Queensland. Sean completed his medical degree at the University of Queensland and has undergone 3 years of postgraduate clinical training at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane.

Sean has presented at multiple conferences on his interests of ocular disease, blindness prevention and public health and is currently pursuing a program of clinical trials designed to elucidate and define the parameters of diabetic retinal neuropathy and to assess the effect of a series of therapeutic interventions on the development of diabetes induced blindness. Sean is also instrumental in the establishment and ongoing specimen processing of the Australian Diabetic Retinopathy Biobank based at the Institute. Sean has been previously based at the Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD) at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and the Mater Medical Research Institute (MMRI-UQ), and continues to apply his expertise in public health and health economics in his work towards blindness prevention.

Slawomir Andrzejewski

Slawomir Andrzejewski

Slawomir is a firstt year PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Science at Middlesex University in London, UK, where he devoted his dissertation project on cancer research. Later, he has been awarded the degree of Master of Science in Cell and Gene Therapy from University College London, UK. During his Masters project, together with researchers from the Institute of Ophthalmology he has worked on optimisation of adeno-associated viral vector for ocular congenital diseases. Prior to joining GMRF, Slawomir completed a work placement at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, where he researched target genes for muscular dystrophy.  Now, thanks to Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation's PhD Scholarship Program and a UQ tuition scholarship, he has joined the Ophthalmology Research Unit where he combines his prior experience to apply a gene therapy for ocular diseases such as Diabetic Retinopathy and Uveal Melanoma.

Aparna Murali

Aparna Murali

Aparna completed her Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology and Master of Science in Genomics in India. She joined the Ophthalmology Research Unit in January 2017 for her PhD under the guidance of Dr. Chris Layton. Her work focusses on diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of diabetic retinal neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. She is currently developing primary human cell culture models for diabetic retinal neuropathy.

Gabriela de Moraes

Gabriela is a 4th year medicine student at the Marilia Medical School (FAMEMA) in Brazil. In 2014, she won a Science Without Borders Scholarship from the Brazilian Federal Government to advance her knowledge in medicine at the University of Queensland,specifically her interest inpreventing blindness.She is currently completing further clinical training in the ophthalmology clinics at Greenslopes Private Hospital and expanding her ophthalmic research abilities by completing a research project at the Gallipoli Medical Research Institute under the supervision of A/Professor Christopher Layton. The project will investigate the effect of high glucose in retinal neural cells under stress as a model of diabetic retinal neuropathy.











Cindy Suemi Kaway

Cindy is a 5th year medical student at Evangelical Medical School of Parana (FEPAR) in Brazil. She is currently an exchange student at The University of Queensland through the Science Without Borders Program, supported by the Brazilian Government. During the scholarship, she will develop research and clinical activities in order to improve her knowledge on ophthalmology. Under the supervision of A/Professor Christopher Layton at Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation, she is working on a project that investigates the important therapeutic potential of erythropoetin in diabetic retina.

Projects for students

Current available projects include:

  1. The role of insulin in retinal neuronal survival in diabetic conditions
  2. The role of EPO in retinal neuronal survival in diabetic conditions
  3. Genetic defects in Stargardt’s Disease
  4. Development of a human cell culture model of diabetic retinal neuropathy
  5. Australian epidemiology of uveal melanoma
  6. Molecular prognostic markers in uveal melanoma
  7. Quantifying human functional markers of diabetic retinal neuropathy
  8. The effect of previous EPO treatment on functional markers of diabetic retinal neuropathy in humans
  9. Circulating miRNA makers of diabetic retinopathy
  10. Examination of the use of survival statistics in ophthalmology
  11. Establishment of the Australian Diabetic Retinopathy Biobank

Please contact A/Professor Layton for further details.

Recent Publications

  1. Dhungel, B, Jayachandran A, Shrestha, R, Ramlogan-Steel C, Layton, CJ, Steel JC, (2017) Evaluation of the Glypican-3 Promoter for Transcriptional Targeting of Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Molecular Therapy 25(5) 68-68
  2. Jenkins KS, Layton CJ, (2017) External ophthalmomyiasis caused by oestrus ovis Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology                                    
  3. Goh A, Ramlogan‐Steel C, Jayachandran A, Steel J, Layton C, (2017)Genetic evidence for the role of ultraviolet radiation in the pathogenesis of uveal melanoma. Acta Ophthalmologica 95:S259
  4. Murali A, Ramlogan‐Steel C, Andrzejewski S, Dhungel B, Steel J, Layton C. (2017) The 8‐fold quadrant dissection method for ex vivo human interventional retinal experimentation Acta Ophthalmologica 95:S259    
  5. Layton CJ Dhungel B, Andrzejewski S, Jayachandran A, Murali A, Ramlogan‐Steel C, Steel J, (2017) Gene therapy targeting of choroidal disease and AAV transcytosis through the outer blood retina barrier epithelium, Acta Ophthalmologica 95:S259    
  6. Jenkins KS, Layton CJ, Adams MKM (2017) Ophthalmoscopic and video OCT methods to detect spontaneous venous pulsation in individuals with apparently normal intracranial pressure: the rebirth of the SVP? Acta Ophthalmologica 95:S259        
  7. Dhungel B, Jayachandran A, Layton CJ, Steel J (2017) Seek and Destroy, targeted adeno-associated gene delivery to hepatocellular carcinoma. Drug Delivery 24 (1), 289-299
  8. Kaway CS, Adams MKM, Jenkins KS, Layton CJ (2017) A Novel ABCA4 Mutation Associated with a Late-Onset Stargardt Disease Phenotype: A Hypomorphic Allele? Case Rep Ophthalmol 8 (1), 180-184
  9. Jenkins KS, Layton CJ (2016). An eye for art? A challenge of ophthalmic body modification Clin Exp Ophthal 44 (8), 741-741
  10. Layton CJ, Kawai CS, Moraes G, Jenkins K, Goh AY (2016) Effects of erythropoietin on glucose induced exacerbation of hypoxic damage in cultured photoreceptor-like cells Invest Ophthal Visual Sci 57 (12), 3228-3228
  11. Jenkins KS, Rowan A Layton CJ (2016) Systemic Assessment of Methods to Diagnose and Monitor Diabetic Retinal Neuropathy. Acta Ophthalmologica 94 (S256)
  12. Goh A, Layton CJ (2016) Evolving systemic targeted therapy strategies in uveal melanoma and implications for ophthalmic management. Clin Exp Ophthal. doi: 10.1111/ceo.12688.
  13. Layton CJ (2015). Decoupling of cellular reducing equivalents and cell survival in in vitro models of diabetic retinal neuropathy. BMC Ophthalmology 15:175 doi:10.1186/s12886-015-0164-2
  14. Lim PC, Layton CJ. (2015) Prognostic implications of imaging in atrophic macular degeneration and its use in clinical practice and clinical trial design. Clin Exp Ophthal. doi: 10.1111/ ceo.12671
  15. De Moraes G, Layton CJ (2015), The effect of glucose and insulin on the susceptibility of cultured photoreceptor-like cells to hypoxia. Acta Ophthalmologica, 93 doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2015.0711
  16. Hsu CL, Layton CJ. (2015) Familial Disorders of the Optic Disc: Presentation of a Mother and Daughter and Review of the Literature. Case Rep Ophthalmol 66(2) 251-259
  17. De Moraes G, Layton CJ. (2015) Diabetic retinal neuropathy as a therapeutic target in diabetic retinopathy Clin Exper Ophthal. doi: 10.1111/ceo.12795
  18. Layton CJ (2014), Factors associated with significant ocular injury in conservatively treated orbital fractures. J Ophthalmology Vol 2014, ID 412397 

Contact the Ophthalmology Unit


A/Professor Christopher Layton

Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation
Greenslopes Private Hospital
Newdegate Street

Phone: (07) 3394 7284
Fax: (07) 3394 7767
Email: c.layton@uq.edu.au

Clinical and Referrals

A/Professor Christopher Layton

Greenslopes Spciality Clinics
Greenslopes Private Hospital
Newdegate Street

Phone: (07) 3398 9494
Fax: (07) 3319 6649
Email: reception@southerneyesurgery.com.au