The NI Clinical Research Network (NICRN) undertakes research on a variety of Eye and Vision related topics. The Vision Group, through NICRN, is part of a UK-wide initiative to provide opportunities for patients and clinicians to participate in high-quality clinical research.

The NI Clinical Research Network aims to:

  • Promote Vision research within Northern Ireland;
  • Attract observational and interventional vision related clinical trials to Northern Ireland;
  • Expand our clinical trial activity, through links with both of the province’s universities, across Northern Ireland to the highest standards of quality and safety;
  • Provide infrastructure and support to facilitate the start-up of new trials on a range of vision related topics;
  • Improve access for patients with vision related problems to new cutting-edge treatments.

Areas of current study include the following:

  • The treatment and detection of Diabetic Eye Disease, Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vascular Diseases;
  • The impact of novel treatments and home monitoring in Glaucoma;
  • The optical management of refractive error and sight loss;
  • Intraocular magnifiers for macular disease
  • The detection and management of Dry Eye;
  • Genetics in eye disease and ocular toxicity of systemic drug therapy.

Adj Professor Jonathan Jackson – BHSCT

Vision Clinical Lead

Dr Jackson {BSc (Hon 1st) PhD MCOptom (DipTp IP) FAAO (LV Dip Res) FBCLA }

Dr Jackson is an award winning Optometry graduate (1st)  from Glasgow College of Technology (1981) with a PhD in Corneal Physiology from Queens University Belfast (1993). After completing a Pre Registration year in Moorfields Eye Hospital London (1982) he returned to Belfast to establish a Hospital Optometry Dept in the Dept of Ophthalmology at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Since qualifying he has been awarded Fellowships from both the American Academy of Optometry and the British Contact Lens Association and holds Diploma level qualifications in independent therapeutic prescribing and Low Vision Research.

In 2007-2008 Dr Jackson completed an R&D funded Fellowship at University College Berkley (California) and from 2011 to 2014 he headed up clinical optometry services at the Australian College of Optometry in Melbourne Australia. He has co-authored over 125 peer reviewed papers, many of which have focused on visual disability, corneal disease, blindness and low vision. He has also supervised, either as lead supervisor or main clinical supervisor, 5 PhDs and 4 MPhil higher degrees, and examined 6 higher clinical research degrees and acted as peer reviewer for multiple journals and research granting organisations. Over a 30 year period he has successfully led research grant applications worth more than £1m and contributed, as a named co-applicant, to a similarly funded number of shared successful applications.

Dr Jackson has been a co-lead for the Clinical Research Network (Vision) since 2015.

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Professor Julie Silvestri CBE – BHSCT/QUB

Vision Clinical Lead

Professor Julie Silvestri is Clinical Director for Ophthalmic Services at the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, Honorary Professor at the Centre Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Co-Lead for the NI Clinical Research Network.

In her capacity as Clinical Director and Clinical Lead for Northern Ireland Eye Network (NIEN) Prof Silvestri has led on the changes to the NI Cataract Pathway and on the establishment of surgical Day Procedure Centres for Ophthalmology. Prof Silvestri also works closely with the Clinical leads in her service to drive forward innovations to maximise services for patients in other subspecialties and has created the opportunity to develop well-equipped Ophthalmic Outpatient Centres to facilitate 1- stop clinic attendances for common conditions.

Prof Silvestri’s programme of research focuses on genetic predisposition and causative genetic variants in ophthalmic diseases with emphasis on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and inherited retinal disorders.  Prof Silvestri has successfully led a research team with a cumulative grant income of circa 2 million, has published over 80 peer-reviewed publication and successfully supervised students to both MD and PhD level.

Prof Silvestri has extensive undergraduate and postgraduate clinical teaching experience, has held many administrative positions at both QUB and the Belfast Trust. Miss Silvestri has served as an Examiner for both the Royal Colleges of Ophthalmology, London and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and has held a number of positions on Grant Review Committees. Prof Silvestri has been internationally recognised for her clinical expertise in retinal disease and intraocular magnifying devices for AMD.

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