Professor Oliver Blacque

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 Oliver Blacque is a Professor in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science at University College Dublin (UCD). Professor Blacque is also a member of the RIWC24 Scientific Committee. 

We are delighted to have Prof. Blacque with us at the Retina International World Congress talking on Friday, June 7, 10:45 AM – 11:00 AM about ‘Retinal Dystrophy in Ciliopathies: using Animal Models to interpret Patient Mutations’.

Image description: Headshot of Professor Oliver Blacque 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. PROFESSOR OLIVER BLACQUE, Associate Professor and Head of Neuroscience, University College Dublin. At the bottom of the image, there are the Fighting Blindness and Retina International logos.

Prof. Blacque is leading one of the Fighting Blindness and the Health Research Board (HRB) co-funded projects under the HRCI-HRB co-funding scheme. Through this study, Professor Oliver Blacque and his team at UCD are working on Inherited Retinal Diseases (IRDs) and specifically the Retinal Dystrophy in Ciliopathies (RDCilia project).

More broadly Prof. Blacque’s lab is interested in a class of human diseases called the ciliopathies. In these diseases, patients have problems in many different organs but the eye is frequently affected. Over the years they have been studying syndromic Inherited Retinal Degenerations (IRDs) where patients carry not only eye problems but also defects in other organs.

One of those diseases is called Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS); that’s the focus of this particular funded project with Fighting Blindness. Over the years the Prof. Blacque lab have tried to understand why patients have BBS, what is the cellular problem in patients with this disease and how might relate to the visual defects.

In this project, Prof. Blacque lab is studying a certain type of Inherited Retinal Disease (IRD) called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) by using the worm Caenorhabditis elegans as an animal model. The three main goals of the project are:

  1. Therapies development: In the first point, we want to know if we can resolve the disease if we can come up with any leads to therapy.
  2. Diagnosis: The second question we’re interested in is diagnosis; so for a lot of patients with IRDs, we don’t actually know what the genetic causes of their disease.
  3. Providing the patients with information: The last thing we’re interested in is trying and understand the disease in terms of what we can do to improve people’s lives by giving them some scientific information that can help them in their journey towards understanding their disease and disseminating it in that way.

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!

We spoke to Professor Oliver Blacque about his current work and you can listen back to what he told us in the podcast series here.