Professor John W McAvoy

Sydney Medical Research Foundation Professor of Experimental Ophthalmology
Clinical Ophthalmology & Eye Health, Central Clinical School
Save Sight Institute

C09 - Sydney Eye Hospital
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

T: +61 2 9382 7369
F: +61 2 9382 7318

Biographical details

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Research interests

How a particular tissue or organ develops its characteristic size and three-dimensional cellular architecture is often a poorly understood part of its developmental program; yet, as is clearly the case for the eye lens, precise regulation of these features can be critical for function. During lens morphogenesis cells become organized into a polarized, spheroidal structure with a monolayer of epithelial cells overlying the apical tips of highly elongated fibre cells. Epithelial cells proliferate and progeny that shift below the lens equator differentiate into new fibres that become precisely aligned and oriented towards the poles of the lens as they progressively add to the fibre mass. Research in our laboratory has shown that FGF induces epithelial to fibre differentiation; however, it is not fully understood how the proliferation and differentiation compartments are regulated to ensure appropriate growth and at the same time maintain the highly ordered and polarized three-dimensional lens structure. In recent studies we have shown that planar cell polarity (PCP) operates in the lens and Wnt-Frizzled signalling plays a role in regulating the polarized cell behaviour that is critical for normal lens morphogenesis and growth. We believe that the lens will be a useful model system to study Wnt-Frizzled/PCP in general and gain insights into mechanisms that generate high-level cellular order during development.

Current national competitive grants*


Preventing Blindness: Blocking TGFß-induced EMT and Cataract Development
Lovicu F, McAvoy J
NHMRC Project Grants ($332,175 over 3 years)


Lens differentiation and cataract: role of FGF and WNT
McAvoy J, Lovicu F
National Institutes of Health (USA) Research Grant ($817,243 over 4 years)

* Grants administered through the University of Sydney