The dedicated team consists of nine individuals, including brilliant scientists, clinicians, tireless researchers, and passionate patient advocates.
Together, they’ve been working relentlessly to secure an impressive lineup of outstanding speakers for RIWC24.
Meet our Scientific Committee members:
Prof Jane Farrar – Chair, RIWC24 Scientific Committee, Professor In Genetics & Head of Department Smurfit Institute of Genetics, TCD
Prof Jane Farrar is the Head of School Genetics & Microbiology, at Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN), Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. She is a Co-Founder, Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Genable Technologies. She holds a primary degree in Genetics, a Ph.D in Human Genetics and a diploma focused in Management Science.
She is a Professor in the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, School of Genetics & Microbiology, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland, is coordinator of the Human Genetics degree programme, Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning for Genetics and Microbiology and a member of the Executive of the School of Genetics and Microbiology TCD.
Professor Farrar is a member of the Executive Council of the Irish Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, she served on the Life Science Committee of the Royal Irish Academy from (2003–2009) and was a Council Member of the Irish Society of Human Genetics (1999–2006). She served on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of Fighting Blindness Ireland for many years and currently is on both the Curriculum Committee of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, TCD and the Technical Staff Promotions Committee, TCD.
She was the recipient of a Wellcome Trust Award Fellowship (1997-2002) and was a member of the Irish Government Technology Foresight Initiative (1998).
Prof Matt Campbell – Professor In Genetics & Head of Department Smurfit Institute of Genetics, TCD
Prof Matthew Campbell is Professor in Genetics and Head of Department at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics in Trinity College Dublin. Prof Campbell has received numerous additional awards for his research which focuses on understanding the role of the so-called blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-retina barrier (BRB) in healthy and diseased states.
In 2020 he was awarded one of Europe’s most prestigious awards from the European Research Council (ERC). In the same year he was elected Science Foundation Ireland’s early career researcher of the year. He also leads the SFI-funded EYE-D programme which is focused on identifying novel therapeutic targets for ocular diseases.
Prof. Campbell is also a PI in the SFI-funded Centre Future-Neuro. He is the founder and Director of the Neurovascular Genetics Unit at TCD and has over 20 years of research expertise in the area of blood-brain and blood-retina barrier biology. He sits on the scientific advisory board of the Moorfields Hospital Charity as well as the UK charity Sight Research UK.
Dr Sarah Doyle – Associate Professor in Immunology, Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN)
Dr Sarah Doyle Ph.D is Associate Professor in Immunology, Department of Clinical Medicine at the School of Medicine, Trinity College of Dublin and Head of the Immunobiology Research Group.
In 2023, Dr Doyle was appointed Director for Research at the School of Medicine, Trinity College. Also in 2023 Dr Doyle received a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant.
Dr Doyle is also a co-Principal Investigator on the EYE-D project which Fighting Blindness co-funds.
Dr Oliver Blacque – Associate Professor Cell Biology & Genetics, UCD
Dr Oliver Blacque is a Professor in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, University College Dublin. 2017: Appointed as Associate professor in cell biology and genetics. 2011: Awarded SFI Principal Investigator Award. 2010: Appointed as UCD College Lecturer. 2006: Appointed as UCD Research Lecturer. 2006: Awarded SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher award. 2002-2005: Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Michel Leroux, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. 2001: Awarded PhD (Biochemistry), University College Dublin. Research Links: Research in SBBS | Mechanisms of Disease Research in SBBS | Model Organisms in SBBS Oliver Blacque, Cilia, C. elegans, intraflagellar transport, Ciliopathy, intracellular trafficking, Bardet Biedl syndrome, basal body, flagella, model organism, Conway.
Ms Emma Duignan – Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, RVEEH
Ms Emma Duignan is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital.
In 2021, an ophthalmic genetics service was formally established at the hospital and led by Ms Duignan who has a specialist interest in ophthalmic genetics.
Ms. Duignan has a special interest in cataract surgery and retinal disease.
Ms Duignan was also Medical Retina fellow with interest in ophthalmic genetics and visual electrophysiology at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London from 2019 – 2020.
Prof David Keegan – Consultant Ophthalmologist, MMUH
Prof David Keegan is Prof David Keegan is a Consultant Vitreo-retinal Surgeon at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin since October 2006. A graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1994, he attained a Masters in Anatomy from UCD in 1996. He trained at Moorfield’s Eye Hospital London (1997 – 2005) and completed his PhD in retinal transplantation from University College London (1999 – 2002). He completed his vitreo-retinal training with Prof Stanley Chang at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York (2005 – 2006).
He is a member of the Irish College of Ophthalmologists Council and Chaired the Manpower Training and Education Committee. He currently sits on the board of the National Council for the Blind. His clinical interests include management of surgical retinal disease and patients with age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal disease, including use of the Intra-ocular Magnifying Telescope.
His research interests are in the early immunological response to sub-retinal transplants. His clinical research interests are in the discovery of Biomarkers in age-related macular degeneration, clinical trials in anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies along with the development of the National Inherited Retinal Disease Register as Chair of the Ophthalmology Division, Dublin Centre for Clinical Research, Molecular Medicine Ireland, Dublin. He is on the organising committee of the Fighting Blindness Retina Conference.
Prof Julie Silvestri – Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, BHSCT
Prof 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.
Prof Silvestri’s programme of research focuses on genetic predisposition and causative genetic variants in ophthalmic diseases with emphasis on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and inherited retinal disorders. Professor Silvestri has collaborated internationally with investigators in the USA, Ireland, Ghana and Israel and nationally with a number of research groups. She has also been lead and is current Co-Lead of the Vision NICRN Research group, which holds an impressive portfolio of industry-funded and Investigator Led projects.
Prof Silvestri has successfully led a research team with a cumulative grant income of circa 2 million and has published over 80 peer-reviewed publications.
Avril Daly – CEO, Retina International
Avril Daly is CEO of the patient-led global umbrella organisation, Retina International, which represents the voice of charities and foundations concerned with the promotion of retina research and related health policy in 43 countries.
Avril has worked in health policy for rare and common eye disease since 2000 and was CEO of the Irish NGO, Fighting Blindness for eight years. She was Chairperson of Rare Disease Ireland from 2006-2019. In 2009 she was elected to the Board of Directors of Rare Disease Europe – EURORDIS, and is now the President of the organisation.
In 2011 Avril was appointed by the Irish Minister for Health to a steering committee working towards the development of the Irish National Plan for Rare Diseases. The plan was published in 2014. She was appointed to the Irish Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases at the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland in 2014 and was recently appointed to the Rare Disease Technology Review Committee and the National Centre of Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) to review orphan therapies that fail initial Health Technologies Assessment (HTA) for statutory reimbursement.
Avril has held board positions with the European Patient Forum, The European Platform for Patient Organisation Science and Industry (EPPOSI), the HRCI (formerly Medical Research Charities Group) in Ireland and IPPOSI, the Irish Platform for Patients Organisation Science and industry. She believes that patients have a critical role to play in aiding the development of appropriate interventions from concept to delivery. Avril holds a Bachelors Degree in Business and International relations, she is living with Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Declan Meenagh – Advocacy Officer, Fighting Blindness
Declan Meenagh is an Advocacy Officer with Fighting Blindness.
He is a Dublin City Council councillor and a Labour Party member.
He has a strong interest in Assistive Technology. Declan is an advocate for Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) and is a contributor to an IPPOSI Working Group on Digital Health.
Declan trained over 200 people with sight loss in using Zoom as a response to COVID-19.
Declan holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc), Computer Science and Software Engineering from Maynooth University.
Dr Ellen Moran – Fighting Blindness, Congress Programme Manager
Dr Ellen Moran is Scientific & Medical Congress Programme Manager for the Retina International World Congress. She works for both Fighting Blindness and Retina International.
Dr Moran holds PhD in Translational Medicine with several years of experience in Research and Programme Management roles with a special interest in Scientific events and communications.
She has previously held roles in the Health Research Board (HRB) and Medical Council Ireland.