Professor Julie Silvestri

Our Retina International World Congress (RIWC24) takes place from the 5th – 8th June 2024 in the Dublin Royal Convention Centre, in the heart of Dublin city centre.

Our Scientific Committee has been working relentlessly to secure an impressive lineup of outstanding speakers to shed light on this research area so as part of our Meet the Speaker series, we are delighted to announce one more distinguished speaker.

Professor Julie Silvestri is Clinical Director for Ophthalmic Services at the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, Honorary Professor at the Centre Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Co-Lead for the NI Clinical Research Network. Professor Silvestri is also a member of the RIWC24 Scientific Committee. 

Professor Julie Silvestri is leading a Fighting Blindness project that aims to identify and genotype patients with inherited retinal disease in Northern Ireland. This is Target 5000 project. 

We are delighted to have Professor Julie Silvestri with us at the Retina International World Congress:

  • Friday, June 7, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM chairing the Afternoon Session (B): Age-Related Macular Degeneration
  • Saturday, June 8, 10:40 AM – 11:40 AM as a panellist at the ‘Challenges & measuring value: What is valuable to patients (diagnosis and therapies)’ panel, together with Professor David Keegan, Russell WheelerSylvia Cerolini and Daniela Brohlburg. Chaired by Dr. Elise Heon.
  • Saturday, June 8, 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM at the Afternoon Parallel Session Option 1: IRDs, presenting on ‘Target 5000 – a standardized all Ireland pathway’ together with Professor David Keegan. Session Chair: Dr. James O’Byrne, Location – Douglas Hyde.

Image description: Headshot of Prof. Julie Silvestri on a blue background image. Text: Retina International World Congress. Dublin Royal Convention Centre, Dublin, Ireland. RIWC24. DUBLIN: Targeting the Cure. JUNE 5-8, 2024. PROF. JULIE SILVESTRI, Clinical Director for Ophthalmic Services Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland. At the bottom of the image, there are the Fighting Blindness and Retina International logos.

Prof Silvestri leads a group in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The group includes- Julie Silvestri- Lead, Eibhlin McLoone- Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Vittorio Silvestri- Senior Imaging Technician, Claire Kirk- Research Genetic Counsellor, Evelyn Moore- Research Nurse and Elsmere Gracey- Admin Lead.

The clinical and research Teams at the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, the University of Houston USA and Professor Cremer’s Team in the Netherlands have been working on Inherited Retinal Degenerations (IRDs) in the Northern Ireland population for over 25 years. The aim is to develop the ‘NI Diseases Registry for Inherited Retinal Degenerations’ and to identify the gene involved in each family in order to ready patients for clinical trials.

Funding through Fighting Blindness has been crucial in moving this research forward and particularly in giving and explaining results to patients. Work carried out through a previous grant funded by FFB allowed significant progress in identifying the genetic cause of IRDs in the NI population at research grade. The Northern Ireland IRD Database now includes over 600 adults and children with IRD.

Funding through the current project has made it possible to achieve the following:

  • To provide confirmation testing for 40 adult patients who had the gene causing their IRD identified through research.
  • To continue to identify and recruit any non-identified individuals with IRD in Northern Ireland.
  • To provide additional testing and genetic counselling for children with inherited ocular disease who have had genotyping through the 100K genome project.
  • To provide feedback of results and counselling to families with support of a genetic counsellor.

We spoke to Professor Julie Silvestri and to Miss Eibhlin McLoone about the above project. Find out more about their work here.

Stay tuned for more updates as we draw closer to this incredible gathering of the latest scientific research and innovation, set to take place in June 2024!