Winner of ICO/Novartis Eye Research Bursary 2017 Announced

Awarded study examines new novel therapeutic pathways in the treatment of glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide

Dr Rory Murphy, Irish College of Ophthalmologists surgical trainee, has been announced as the recipient of the ICO/Novartis Eye Research Bursary 2017-18.   Dr Murphy’s study focuses on preventing sight loss in glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally, through inhibitors that could offer a novel and completely different therapeutic option in glaucoma management from the current method. 

Dr Murphy's research is being carried out between the facilities at University College Dublin and The Catherine McAuley Research Centre, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, under the supervision of Prof. Colm O’Brien, Professor of Ophthalmology.

Now in its 6th consecutive year, the annual ICO/Novartis Research Bursary is an unrestricted educational grant awarded to a doctor who wishes to undertake a research project or specific training in the field of ophthalmology.  The bursary has been instrumental in facilitating eye doctors in Ireland to undertake pioneering research into potential cures and treatments for sight-threatening conditions. 

Explaining the rationale of the study and the significance of the being awarded funding for his project, Dr Rory Murphy said,

“It is a real privilege and honour to receive the ICO / Novartis research bursary, which will enable exciting research into novel therapeutic pathways in the treatment of glaucoma.  Glaucoma is age-related and with an ageing population, we will see a significant increase in its prevalence and burden of disease.”

Dr Murphy added, 

“Currently, the only available method of slowing disease progression is by lowering intraocular pressure.  In many individuals this is not enough to prevent eventual blindness.  We are hopeful that by inhibiting mechanotransduction of matrix stiffness to profibrotic epigenetic changes, we can attenuate the maladaptive, pathological, structural changes of the optic nerve head region seen in glaucoma, thereby preventing sight loss.  These inhibitors could offer a novel and completely different therapeutic option in glaucoma management from the current, but often inadequate, gold standard of reducing intraocular pressure.  I am most grateful to both Novartis and the Irish College of Ophthalmology for the opportunity to conduct this research.”

Speaking at the announcement of the Award at the Annual Retinal Meeting in Adare, Co. Limerick, spokesperson for the ICO and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at University Hospital Limerick, Miss Marie Hickey- Dwyer, said; 

“We are delighted to congratulate Dr Murphy on his award. As a leading cause of global blindness, Dr Murphy’s focus on potential new novel therapeutic pathways in the treatment of glaucoma is a very exciting and most worthy project for this funding.  The Annual Adare Retinal Meeting is a fitting occasion to acknowledge the significant research being undertaken in the area of ophthalmology in Ireland and the ICO thank Novartis for their continued support.  We look forward to hearing an update on Dr Murphy’s work at ICO Annual Conference 2018.”

Dr. Simon Schmid, Medical Director, Novartis Ireland said, “Dr. Simon Schmid, Medical Director, Novartis Ireland said,

“Novartis is delighted to support research and education in ophthalmology in Ireland. We are particularly proud to partner with the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) to fund this bursary, which helps support the development of the future leaders in ophthalmology. As in previous years,  this year’s entries were of a very high calibre and I’d like to congratulate Dr. Rory Murphy on winning the 2017 ICO/Novartis Bursary and wish him well in his research and future career”.


30th November 2017