Dr Tobi Somerville (academic clinical fellowship trainee in Ophthalmology who works both in the St Paul’s Eye Unit and at the Department of Eye and Vision Sciences) was invited to present her work at the ICAT Academic Clinical Fellows - Prize Presentation and won the prize for best presentation.
This is not the first award Tobi has received for her work relating to "Evaluation of a simplified non-evasive method for diagnosing microbial keratitis." Tobi was awarded a joint funded Medical Research Council and Fight for Sight Clinical Research Training Fellowship (CRTF). These awards are highly prestigious awards that supports clinicians undertaking academic careers.
Tobi’s fellowship project is looking at microbial keratitis which is an infection of the cornea (the transparent front part of the eye) that may lead to blindness. It is important to identify the tiny bacteria type organisms (microorganisms) causing the infection, but collecting samples from the cornea is difficult and needs special equipment. A new method to obtain these samples using a “corneal impression membrane” was developed at St Pauls Eye Unit. This is a small piece of paper (membrane) that is placed on the infected area of cornea. The technique is easy to perform and previous research by Professor Kaye at St Paul’s Eye Unit has shown that it increases chances of identifying the cause of infection.
Tobi’s project will use the corneal impression membrane to examine the “corneal microbiome”, the microorganisms that may live naturally on the front surface of the cornea, in healthy eyes and in microbial keratitis. This exciting project will greatly improve current interpretation of corneal sample results and will significantly benefit future research developing faster and more personalised treatment strategies for microbial keratitis.
You can read more about Tobi's earlier work of tackling microbial keratitis in Malawi buy clicking here.
St Paul's charity, The Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness, has provided funding to Tobi's work so it's great to see Tobi's work receiving such recognition.