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Prof John Dart
Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
162 City Road
Tel: 020 7566 2320
Fax: 020 7566 2019
Prof John Dart profile picture
  • Honorary Clinical Professor
  • Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

John Dart’s first degree was in Zoology at Oxford following which he published the results of field studies on tropical echinoderm ecology. He went on to study medicine at Cambridge and completed his clinical medical training at Oxford later studying Ophthalmology at the Oxford Eye Hospital before completing his training at Moorfields Eye Hospital. This was followed by Fellowships in ocular microbiology with Dan B Jones at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and Doug Coster at Flinders University, Adelaide. He began his research into the epidemiology, pathogenesis and therapy of contact lens related keratitis, when a lecturer at the Institute of Ophthalmology (1984-1989), and for which he was awarded his Doctorate at Oxford. As a Consultant at Moorfields he developed an additional interest in severe inflammatory eye diseases. Since then he has provided a tertiary referral service for these disorders. He has been one of the pioneers in managing these conditions with systemic immunomodulatory therapy, integrating the resulting management paradigms with keratoplasty techniques. This clinical work has been central to his research. 

He has given 18 eponymous lectures, including the EU Cornea Medal Lecture in 2015 and has been Visiting Professor at 7 Universities. He was Deputy Director of Research at Moorfields 2000-2012, Chairman of the Control of Infections Committee 1997-2011, Master of the Oxford Ophthalmological Congress 2010-2011, Chairman of the Cambridge Symposium 2011, and served on the Fight for Sight Grant Allocation Panel 2009-2014. 

Currently he is a Member of the Scientific Advisory Board for The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, a Steering Group Member for the UCL FLARRE (inFLammation, tissue repAir, scaRring and fibRotic diseasEs) Consortium, and on the Advisory Board for the British Council for Prevention of Blindness. 

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

I am a clinical scientist with a track record of collaboration with colleagues in laboratory science. My research is focused in the areas of corneal infections and inflammatory diseases of the ocular surface. I also have substantial experience in clinical trials.  


Corneal infections: our series of studies, started in the mid 1980’s, have made one of the most substantial contributions to understanding the epidemiology and pathogenesis of infection in contact lens users, resulting in over 60 peer reviewed publications to date. Contact lens wear is the leading cause of corneal infection in healthy individuals and responsible for about half of all corneal infections in the UK and other developed countries. These studies have had a substantial impact on contact lens practice in the UK and Internationally following publications in the Lancet and British Medical Journal, as well as the major ophthalmological and vision research journals, identifying overnight wear and avoidable hygiene problems as risk factors for infection, and clarifying the pathogenesis. We also investigated the role of bacterial biofilms in ocular infections and contact lens related disease. We identified the causes of the first outbreak of Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) in the 1990’s. We also introduced the first effective drug for Acanthamoeba keratitis. We have latterly used epidemiological genetics to investigate susceptibility to infection. Our current research is into the development of polyhexanide as a licenced medication for AK, novel investigations of susceptibility to AK using epidemiological genetics, a case control study investigating the causes of the current UK epidemic of AK that started in 2012.


Inflammatory disease of the ocular surface: A major area of this research has been into scarring conjunctivitis using mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP) as a model disease. This has identified some of the mechanisms underlying both the associated conjunctival inflammation and scarring as well as evaluating medical and surgical treatment strategies for the condition. Our current studies are focused on investigating the genetics and autoantibody response in MMP, and the identification of targets that will modulate both inflammation, for which there are a number of potential therapies already in use in other disorders an for scarring which is an orphan area. These studies have utilised in vitro human tissue in David Abraham and Jill Norman’s labs at UCL Royal Free and Julie Daniels labs at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, using the large patient resource at Moorfields. We are also using a new mouse model of immune mediated inflammation in Virginia Calder’s laboratory at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. 

Teaching Summary

John has trained 36 Corneal and External disease Fellows and 10 PhD/MD students of whom three hold Chairs in Ophthalmology or Optometry. Some of the studies leading to these higher degrees have been clinical/epidemiological, however most have combined clinical with laboratory studies. The laboratory component has been undertaken and co-supervised by basic scientist colleagues at the Institute of Ophthalmology or the Research Department of Inflammation at UCL Royal Free. He lectures nationally and internationally (11 given in 2014/5) as well at local meetings, and organises weekly postgraduate teaching at Moorfields. 

01-JAN-2011 – 31-DEC-2020 Hon Professor Ocular Biology Institute of Ophthalmology, United Kingdom
2007 – 2010 Hon Reader in Ophthalmology Ocular Biology Institute of Ophthalmology, United Kingdom
2006 – 2007 Hon Senior Lecturer Ocular Biology Institute of Ophthalmology, United Kingdom
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