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Dr Omar Mahroo
  • Associate Professor
  • Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I completed a medical degree and PhD at the University of Cambridge, and post-doctoral work at Cambridge and the Australian National University. My PhD and post-doctoral work were under the supervision of Trevor Lamb FRS, and investigated light and dark adaptation of human rod and cone photoreceptors, and rod-driven bipolar cells using in vivo electrophysiology (Paupoo et al., J Physiol. 2000; Mahroo & Lamb, J Physiol. 2004; Kenkre et al. J Physiol 2005; Cameron, Mahroo, Lamb, J Physiol. 2006).

I worked in medical and surgical specialties in Cambridge, Huntingdon and the West Suffolk Hospital, and then commenced ophthalmic specialist training in the London Deanery in 2007. I was appointed Academic Clinical Lecturer in Ophthalmology at King's College London, joining the team of Professor Chris Hammond, in 2011, and established an electroretinography research laboratory at St Thomas' Hospital, obtaining research funding from Fight for Sight and the Birdshot Uveitis Society. During this time, I supervised three successive KCL Masters' research projects (all three students obtaining distinctions) and five undergraduate research projects at the University of Cambridge. As part of the Vision 2020 link between St Thomas' Hospital and the Muhimbili University Hospital in Tanzania, we also conducted research into retinal imaging findings in Tanzanian optic neuropathy (Kisimbi et al., Brain, 2013).

I commenced a Medical Retina fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in 2014, and completed my ophthalmology training in 2015.

Research Summary

PI for CRN portfolio study: "Recording Retinal Responses in Health and Disease"

Main research interest: Investigating retinal function in healthy subjects and impairment of function in retinal and neurological diseases using detailed in vivo human retinal electrophysiology

Retinal diseases are a major cause of blindness worldwide. The retina converts light into electrical signals, which are processed and transmitted to the brain, allowing us to see. These electrical signals can be recorded non-invasively from patients and healthy volunteers – this is termed the electroretinogram (ERG), analagous in some ways to an ECG. My research involves recording and analysing these responses, and isolating signals from different cellular populations using novel stimulus protocols and mathematical modelling techniques. We have been successful in quantifying responses from photoreceptors and bipolar cells in different states of retinal adaptation. Recently, we quantified heritability of retinal response parameters in a twin study (Bhatti et al., Ophthalmology, 2017), and we also looked at ERG changes after viewing a smartphone in the dark, showing that the resulting “blindness” reported by some patients is benign and related to retinal adaptation (Alim-Marvasti et al., NEJM, 2016).

Current areas of interest include the following:

  • Recording from patients with molecularly characterised inherited retinal dystrophies to understand the role of specific proteins in visual signalling (this will also allow development of new ways of monitoring the efficacy of new gene therapy treatments).
  • Understanding normal retinal visual signalling pathways by analysing recordings in healthy volunteers, and exploring correlation with common genetic variants and other phenotypic traits.
  • Recording from patients with neurological or neuropsychiatric conditions: the retina has similar neuronal circuitry to the brain, and so these ERGs may give insight into mechanisms of neurological impairment.

  • Understanding how myopia (short-sightedness) develops – this is driven by retinal signalling, and we are exploring whether retinal electrophysiology differs in individuals who have genetic variants that confer susceptibility to myopia (in collaboration with the TwinsUK cohort at KCL).

16-OCT-2017 Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist Medical Retina Moorfields Eye Hospital, United Kingdom
01-FEB-2017 Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer Ophthalmology King's College London, United Kingdom
03-AUG-2016 – 16-OCT-2016 Locum Consultant Opthalmologist Medical Retina Moorfields Eye Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital, United Kingdom
05-AUG-2015 – 02-AUG-2016 Post-CCT Fellow Medical Retina Moorfields Eye Hospital, United Kingdom
03-AUG-2011 – 04-AUG-2014 Academic Clinical Lecturer Ophthalmology; Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology King's College London, United Kingdom
01-AUG-2007 – 04-AUG-2015 Specialist Trainee in Ophthalmology   London Deanery, United Kingdom
01-FEB-2005 Research Affiliate Physiology, Development and Neuroscience University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2013 PGCAP Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice  – Academic studies in Education King's College London
2012 FRCOphth Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists – Ophthalmology Royal College of Ophthalmologists
2004 MB BChir Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery – Clinical Medicine University of Cambridge
2004 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Vision Science University of Cambridge
2003 MA Cantab MA Cantab – Medical Science University of Cambridge
1999 BA Hons Bachelor of Arts (Honours) – Medical Sciences University of Cambridge
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