UK-EGG Steering Group
Amanda Churchill (Chair) is a Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist with a special interest in Genetics and honorary Clinical Lecturer at the University of Bristol. During her training in Yorkshire, she undertook a PhD in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of Leeds studying the genetics of developmental eye disease including anterior segment dysgeneses and dominant optic atrophy. She spent a six month molecular genetics Fellowship with Professor Ed Stone in Iowa before moving to the University of Bristol in 2001. Her continued research on inherited eye disease led to the development of an NHS-funded genetic test for anterior segment dysgenesis. Moving away from simple Mendelian to complex genetics diseases, Amanda has devoted the last ten years to investigating the VEGF gene in angiogenic eye diseases. She has published a DNA profile associated with both age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Funding has included the The Wellcome Trust, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation. Her current research is focussed on personalised medicine and using genetic profiling as a predictor of how an individual may respond to treatment. In addition to her research interests, she leads the Paediatric Ophthalmology unit at Bristol Eye Hospital and runs a monthly Genetic Eye Clinic. Amanda has previously been Treasurer of UKEGG for the last 4 years.
Georgina Hall (Treasurer) is a Consultant Genetic Counsellor in the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine in the UK. Having gained her degree in Genetics at Cambridge University, she went on to graduate from the Master’s degree in Genetic Counselling in Manchester in 1992. Georgina has worked across many different areas of clinical Genetics, but specialises in ophthalmic genetics. She has been working in the multidisciplinary genetic eye clinics in Manchester for twentyyears involving clinical geneticists, ophthalmologists, genetic counsellors and eye clinic liaison officers. Georgina’s research interests include developing services for patients and families with inherited eye disease. Her programme of research, funded by a patient Charity, Fight for Sight, has explored the needs of patient with retinal dystrophy, measuring experiences and value of genetic testing for retinal dystrophy and development methods to evaluate services. She is also interested in communication with families, developing communication aides for patients with visual impairment, leaflets and information for patients to support family communication and decision making.
Stuart Ingram (Secretary) is a Research Project Manager at Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, and manages several interconnected research projects in the field of inherited eye disease including observational, therapeutic, academic and commercial streams. He is also works on grant applications, research governance, patient involvement and experience, and coordinates multi-disciplinary team meetings. He is currently studying for an MSc in Genomic Medicine at the University of Manchester and would like to follow this with a PhD studying and developing new approaches to research consent in visually impaired patients in the NHS clinical setting. Stuart acts as secretary to UK EGG and provides administrative support to other committee & executive members.
Catherine Willis (Website coordinator) is a Principal Genetic Counsellor at Wessex Regional Genetics Service. She has a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Warwick and after graduating trained as a Nurse at St Mary’s Hospital, London. In 2000 she completed her MSc in Human Molecular Genetics with Counselling from Imperial College, London whilst working at Moorfields Eye Hospital as a Research Nurse/Genetic Counsellor in the Medical Retina Department led by Professor Alan Bird and with Professor Tony Moore in Paediatric Ophthalmology. Since 2004 she has been at Wessex Regional Genetics Service and is the lead Genetic Counsellor for Ophthalmic Genetics.
Penny Clouston is a Consultant Clinical Scientist (Molecular Genetics) in the Oxford Regional Genetics Laboratories and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. After completing her PhD at the University of Leeds she joined the SE Thames Regional Genetics service as a Clinical Scientist in 1992 before moving to the Oxford Regional Genetics Laboratory in 1994. She is currently Lead for Molecular Genetics and Head of the Inherited Retinal Dystrophy, Hereditary Ataxias and Joubert syndrome services. Her aim is to deliver efficient, clinically effective genomic testing and to provide equitable access to diagnostic services for all patients with genetic conditions.
Nicola Ragge (Nicky) is a Consultant Geneticist, Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Birmingham; honorary Consultant, Dept of Ophthalmology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and Professor in Medical Genetics, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.
Nicola Ragge trained in Paediatrics before entering Ophthalmology. After her general Ophthalmology training, she undertook Fellowships in Paediatric Ophthalmology, Neuro-ophthalmology, Adnexal Surgery, Ophthalmic Genetics at centres including: UC, San Francisco, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Great Ormond St Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. She started to specialise in understanding the genetics of congenital eye anomalies, mainly anophthalmia and microphthalmia in 1999 whilst working in the Adnexal Dept at Moorfields Eye Hospital with Professor Richard Collin and set up a joint multidisciplinary clinic. In 2003, she was awarded a Senior Surgical Scientist Fellowship to establish a research programme in developmental eye genetics in Oxford whilst working as Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist in Moorfields and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. She undertook specialist training in Clinical Genetics to become dual accredited in Genetics and Ophthalmology, and now works as a consultant geneticist, with a special interest in developmental eye genetics and runs a national laboratory research programme on Eye Genetics in Oxford. She has identified new genes and syndromes involving eye anomalies and has established new rapid diagnostic testing for these genes. She has wide-ranging research interests, has published over 80 papers, and a book ‘Immediate Eye Care’. She has worked as Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Genetics. She is medical advisor to the Microphthalmia, Anophthalmia, Coloboma support group.
Carmel Toomes is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds in the field of molecular and cellular ophthalmology. She completed her PhD at the University of Manchester under the supervision of Professor Mike Dixon, studying the Molecular Genetics of Blepharophimosis, Ptosis and Epicathus Inversus Syndrome (BPES). Her first post-doctorial position was also in Manchester under the supervision of Professor Nalin Thakker, studying oral cancer and Papillon–Lefèvre syndrome. In 2000, she moved to Leeds to take up a post-doctoral position with Professor Chris Inglehearn investigating Optic Atrophy. In 2002 she became a principle investigator after obtaining funding from the Wellcome Trust, followed by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, to investigate Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy (FEVR). At the end of her fellowship in 2013, Carmel took up her current post. She continues to work on FEVR along with other inherited retinal diseases including Foveal Hypoplasia, Leber Congenital Amaurosis, Optic Atrophy, Cone Rod Dystrophy and Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is a member of the European Retinal Disease Consortium (www.erdc.info), the UK Inherited Retinal Disease Consortium (UK IRDC), the Hearing and Sight GeCIP and the Medical Advisory Board for RP Fighting Blindness.
Andrew Webster is a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Chair of Molecular Ophthalmology at University College London. He trained in Cambridge, Iowa City and Moorfields. He oversees a large clinical practice at Moorfields managing patients and families with inherited retinal disease, and supervises a group of investigators at the Institute of Ophthalmology.
Gabrielle Wheway is a Lecturer in Biomedical Science at the University of the West of England, Bristol. She completed her PhD in molecular genetics and functional characterisation of ciliopathies under the supervision of Prof Colin Johnson, Prof Chris Inglehearn and Dr Carmel Toomes at the Section of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine. Her doctoral studies initially focussed on the retinal ciliopathy LCA associated with mutations in LCA5, but moved into the more severe ciliopathies MKS and JBTS. Her postdoctoral work as part of the EU FP7 ‘Syscilia’ programme involved a whole genome siRNA knockdown screen to identify novel cilia and ciliopathy genes. This led to the discovery that the pre-mRNA splicing factors mutated in adRP are located at the base of the primary cilium and are required for ciliogenesis. This forms the basis of her current work, funded by the Wellcome Trust and National Eye Research Council. She has a strong interest in functional characterisation of molecular pathways of disease in inherited retinal dystrophies, with a view to identifying targets for development of novel therapeutics.
Daniela Pilz is a Consultant in Clinical Genetics at the West of Scotland Genetics Service, Glasgow. She graduated from Medical School in Hannover, Germany, and trained in paediatrics and clinical genetics in the UK. The topic of her MD thesis was “Lissencephaly”. She spent two-years as a research associate in a molecular laboratory at the University of Chicago, Department of Human Genetics, working on cortical malformations, specifically the molecular causes of the classical lissencephaly spectrum. She is still involved in research into causes of cortical brain malformations. Her clinical expertise lies in dysmorphology, paediatric neurogenetics and eye genetics. For over 10 years she ran a joint eye-genetics clinic with Mr Watts Consultant Ophthalmologist, in Cardiff. She is now providing a joint eye-genetics clinic with Dr Gilmour, Consultant Ophthalmologist, in Glasgow. She has been a member of the Eye-Genetics Group from its inception. She has given invited lecturers on “eye and genetics” at courses and conferences. Her focus is on equitable delivery of comprehensive clinical and molecular diagnostic support for families with genetic eye disease.
Barbara Norton is an experienced Social Worker/Counsellor, having worked in Local Authority, Hospital and Voluntary Sector contexts. Barbara has helped to pioneer the provision of professional counselling, in a multi-disciplinary team, at the point of diagnosis of retinal dystrophies and has spoken widely on this subject at medical and social work conferences, plus patient support groups. Barbara holds a BSc. (Hons.) in Human Biology and Anatomy, plus Diplomas in Sociological Studies, and Applied Social Studies all from Sheffield University. She also holds a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW). Barbara has worded on a voluntary basis as the Counsellor in the Specialist Inherited Retinal Dystrophy clinics at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London since 1992. Over this period she has worked in multi-disciplinary teams led by Professor Alan Bird, Professor Tony Moore and currently Professor Andrew Webster. Barbara is a founder member of the Eye Genetics Group (EGG UK) and a member of the patient advisory group for the Regard study. Barbara has held a range of voluntary roles for RP Fighting Blindness (formerly the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society) and is a Guide Dog Owner and GDBA speaker.
Previous Committee Members
We should like to thank the following members for their hard work and support on the Steering Committee:
- Professor Tony Moore – Moorfields Eye Hospital, UCL
- Ruth Newbury-Ecob – Royal United Hospital, Bath
- David Robinson – Southampton Regional Genetics Service
- Professor Marcela Votruba – Cardiff University, University Hospital of Wales
- Simon Ramsden – Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester
- Georgina Hall – Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine
- Susan Downes – Oxford Eye Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals, University of Oxford
- Professor Graeme Black – Central Manchester University Hospitals