HRC Funded PhD opportunity

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland

Tackling the vicious circle of dry eye disease


Dry eye disease (DED) is one of the most common, yet undertreated, ocular surface conditions, with a worldwide prevalence as high as 50%. While generally not considered sight-threatening, it negatively impacts quality of life in a manner similar to other chronic diseases, with recognised mental health effects. In addition to dryness, foreign body sensation and pain, blurred vision and reading difficulties are often reported. Multifactorial in nature, DED can arise from numerous interrelated underlying pathologies leading to a vicious circle. However, current therapies often address only one issue, resulting in poor treatment outcomes. Moreover, response to therapy is often slow with adverse effects from formulation excipients such a preservatives and surfactants causing further ocular toxicity upon long-term use, ultimately worsening DED symptoms.


This PhD project will combine clinical assessments with laboratory science by investigating inflammasome markers in DED patients, a potential new target for DED. Recruiting patients from the dry eye clinic, the successful applicant will determine inflammasome markers, using ELISA and RT-PCR, in tear samples collected by the flush method as well as conjunctival cells obtained by impression cytology.
This project is particularly suitable for an optometry graduate with an interest in translational science combining clinical practice with laboratory investigations.


Supervisory team: AP Jennifer Craig, Dr Stuti Misra and AP Ilva Rupenthal.
If you are interested, please contact AP Jennifer Craig at

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