New lead for corneal and ocular surface treatment and research

We are delighted to welcome Sajjad (Saj) Ahmad to Moorfields this November, when he will take up his position as consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and honorary senior lecturer at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Mr Ahmad is currently a senior clinical lecturer in ocular stem cell biology at the Department of Eye and Vision Science in the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease at the University of Liverpool and an honorary consultant ophthalmologist in the cornea service, St Paul’s Eye Unit, Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Before moving to Liverpool in August 2013, Mr Ahmad was a corneal fellow at Moorfields.

In addition to his research and administrative roles, Mr Ahmad has a strong interest in teaching and training and is a board member for the Integrated Clinical Academic Training Programme for the Mersey Deanery, lead for academic foundation doctors at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and postgraduate teaching lead for the Mersey Deanery.  His clinical expertise is in ocular surface inflammation, regeneration and reconstruction.

This is an extremely exciting appointment for Moorfields, as Mr Ahmad has an illustrious track-record in translating basic science findings to the treatment of patients with debilitating corneal disease, including developing a technique to grow stem cells from the surface of the cornea to successfully treat patients blinded by burns and other diseases affecting the surface of the eye. Having been involved in two clinical trials within the UK, Mr Ahmad is currently the UK chief investigator for a new European clinical trial for these corneal stem cells.

In the coming years, with the research portion of his post underpinned by Moorfields Eye Charity, Mr Ahmad will focus on developing a new treatment for diseases of the inner surface of the cornea (endothelium). There is currently a severe shortage of donor corneas available for transplant in the UK, which results in many patients suffering avoidable blindness and sight loss. By growing human corneal endothelial cells in the laboratory, Mr Ahmad hopes to make it possible for many patients to be treated from one donated cornea.

Welcoming Mr Ahmad to Moorfields, Professor John Dart said:

Saj will have a substantial impact on the growth of both research in his areas of interest which dovetail with those of Professor Julie Daniels, Mr Stephen Tuft and myself and the associated clinical services.  There are only a few teams at the moment working in this area, and his appointment will place Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology at the global forefront of this research.

Ailish Murray, head of research funding and grants management at Moorfields Eye Charity said:

Moorfields Eye Charity warmly welcomes Saj to Moorfields.  This is a really exciting opportunity for us to support the growth and sustainability of these clinical and research areas, which are of great importance and have potential to bring significant benefits to patients at Moorfields and beyond.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Ahmad said:

I am truly delighted to be returning to Moorfields Eye Hospital. This will enable me to work more closely with some of the most talented ophthalmologists and vision researchers in the world. I am also grateful for the support that Moorfields Eye Charity is providing for my research programme and team to develop further stem cell based treatments for blinding diseases of the cornea. Working closely with Professor Julie Daniels and her team at the Institute of Ophthalmology, we will develop a cell therapy for corneal endothelial diseases such as Fuchs endothelial dystrophy.