StarT: Innovative Research Training Network focusing on different aspects of Stargardt Disease

Prof Elfride de Baere, University of Ghent, Belgium

Professor Elfride deBaere

Funded through the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) scheme, StarT combines the expertise of academic, industry and patient organisations to train a new generation of vision researchers specialising in inherited retinal diseases (IRD).

Autosomal recessive Stargardt disease (STGD1), as a result of mutations in the ABCA4 gene is one of the most common inherited retinal degenerations. Led by Prof Elfride de Baere, Retina 2016 Speaker, StarT research aims to understand the regulation of the ABCA4 gene, to elucidate its hidden genetic variation, and to develop novel treatments. A total of 14 early stage researchers will receive training opportunities in outstanding vision research groups across UK and Europe, including a secondment under the supervision of Prof Farrar at Trinity College Dublin.

These PhD students will gain unique experience in omics technologies, diagnostics, stem cell biology, animal models and therapeutic development. Complementing their time at the lab bench, Fighting Blindness, along with other patient organisations will support the early stage researchers in designing new concepts for fundraising to boost Stargardt disease research at the European level.