Professor Stephanie Watson
NHMRC Career Development Fellow and Clinical Professor
Clinical Ophthalmology & Eye Health, Central Clinical School
Save Sight Institute
Save Sight Institute
Stephanie Watson is a Clinical Professor and NHMRC Career Development Fellow at the Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney, Australia. She is a corneal and cataract specialist with appointments at the Sydney Eye Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, and Sydney Children’s Hospital. Prof Watson leads a research program focused on innovative solutions for ocular surface disease and corneal surgery. She has published over 88 articles in high-ranked peer reviewed journals and book chapters, and holds international patents. Professor Watson has given over 100 presentations at national and international meetings. Organisations that have funded her research programme include the NHMRC, ORIA, and Australian Stem Cell Centre. She is a Director of the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia and serves on international and national journal editorial boards.Professor Watson’s research work on stem cells for the cornea has been featured in the international, national and local news; including on the ABC programme, Catalyst and in the Qantas Inflight magazine. On the ABC’s New Inventors programme she was awarded the ‘Les is more’ grand final award, episode winner and people’s choice awards.
Clin Prof Watson leads a research program focused on innovative solutions for ocular repair and regeneration.
Teaching and supervision
Ocular Repair Group
Group leader: Clinical Professor Stephanie Watson
Prof Watson is supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (APP1050524)
1. OCULAR INFECTION
Serious Ocular Infections Project
Team:Professor Stephanie Watson, Dr Dana Robaei, Associate Professor Alex Hunyor, Mr Eamon Brown
Ocular infection can irreversibly damage the eyes structures resulting in vision loss and even blindness. Prompt use of appropriate antimicrobials can preserve vision. Antimicrobial resistance is emerging as a significant problem. Rational antimicrobial use for ocular infection has the potential to save sight. We aim to determine the pattern of pathogenic microbes and prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the most common, serious and sight-threatening infections encountered in the field of ophthalmology, namely endophthalmitis (infection of the globe) and microbial keratitis (infection of the cornea).
This project is supported by the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation
Antiviral therapy for herpes simplex keratitis
Team:Professor Stephanie Watson, Dr Dana Robaei, Dr Maria Cabrera Aguas, Dr Dr Yi Chiao-Li
Herpes Simplex keratitis is the leading cause of infectious blindness in developed nations and is commonly seen at the Sydney Eye Hospital. To save sight we will develop Australian guidelines for anti-viral therapy for this infection.
This project is supported by the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation
Sutureless antimicrobial surgery
Team:Associate Professor John Foster Professor Stephanie Watson, Dr Jack Tan
Sutures are used to seal ocular wounds and for corneal surgery, such as transplantation. Sutures however have a number of significant disadvantages, including acting as a nidus for infection. The team has developed an innovative laser-activated chitosan bioadhesive that can be rapidly applied to the eye and has a high burst pressure. It is also capable of delivering anti-infective and anti-inflammatory agents to wounds.
An NHMRC project grant (IDID 1067749) has been awarded for this project.
2. FIGHT CORNEAL BLINDNESS PROJECT
The Keratoconus Registry
Team:Professor Stephanie Watson, Associate Professor Mark Daniell, Dr Daniel Barthelmes, Dr Martina Bosch, Dr John Males, Dr Yves Kerdraon
This project will utilise technology of the Fight Retinal Blindness Project led by Prof Mark Gilles, Save Sight Institute, to develop a national registry to collect high quality data outcomes from patients in clinical settings on the corneal cross-linking. Nationally we are partnering with Prof Mark Daniell, CERA, Victoria and our international partners Dr Martina Bosch and Dr Daniel Barthelmes are based in Switzerland. National data collected with ourworld-leading technology will be used to formulate evidence based management guidelines, evaluate new interventions and report patient related outcomes.
Keratoconus Australia and the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia have provided seed funding for this project.
National Surveillance Studies
Team:Professor Stephanie Watson, Associate Professor Nick Di GIrolamo, Professor Peter McCluskey, Professor Denis Wakefield, Associate Professor Damien Harkin
In partnership with the Australian and New Zealand Ophthalmic Surviellance Unit we are investigating the national incidence of scarring disease of the eye surface (Ocular Cicatricial Pemphigoid, Steven Johnson Syndrome) and end-stage limbal stem cell failure.
3. DRY EYE AND BLEPHARITIS
Team:Professor Stephanie Watson, Dr Ken Ooi
Dry eye and blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) are the commonest eye disorders, affecting up to 40% of people. Many continue to suffer despite available therapies. We have developed a novel therapy and in a pilot clinical trial showed success in treating blepharitis with dry eye.
We are seeking funding for Phase II trials.
Dry eye and aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer
Team:Professor Stephanie Watson, Dr Holly Inglis, Prof Michael Friedlander, A/Prof Frances Boyle, Dr Yi Chiao-Li
We have conducted the first prospective survey study of breast cancer patients on aromatase inhibitors and found increased dry eye. We now have funding from the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia to investigate this group further.
Stem cell repair
Team: A/Professor Nick Di Girolamo, Professor Stephanie Watson
Professor Watson and Associate Professor Di Girolamo have developed novel and world first stem cell transplantation techniques that have successfully restored sight to patients. Stem cells are needed to restore clear vision and comfort to the ocular surface. Current research is focussing on the factors to promote stem cell repair of the ocular surface.
This work has been supported by an UNSW Goldstar award.
Women on Boards
Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Sydney University Alumni
University of New South Wales Alumni
Australian Society of Ophthalmologists
Awards and honours
NHMRC Career Development Fellowship
Pride of Australia Nominee
Dunlop Fellowship. Asialink Leaders Programme
Young investigator award, Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society
‘Les is more’ grand final award, episode winner and people’s choice award. The New Inventors, ABC Television, for Autologous ex vivo cultured limbal epithelial cell transplantation.
In the media
New York Times citation
The Australian Stem Cell handbook
Pride of Australia nomination, Daily Telegraph. 2nd August 2014
Channel 7 news, Watching out for work place dangers. July 30th 2014
Insight, SBS Television, Stem cell therapy, July 15th 2014
2UE, Regenerative Medicine, July 27th 2014
Solutions for sore eyes, You Tube video
Science Radio, Stem cell therapies, 2013
Bright Ideas, Qantas Inflight Magazine, June 2011
Catalyst, ABC Television, March 24th 2011
Women in Ophthalmology, Insight, April 2010
‘Sight for Sore Eyes’ You Tube video. 114,298 hits
The New Inventors. ABC Television. Grand Final Episode 43
The New Inventors. ABC Television. Episode 30
Australian Stem Cell Centre
Australian optometry, August 2011
Uniken, University of New South Wales
UNSW Web Front page story
Eyenet, Clinical Insights from the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists News, 2009;12(3):9
School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales
Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales
Crabs and eyeballs not usually a good mix TVNZ March 30, 2010
Surgical Glue Made from Crab Shells, Med India March 30, 2010
Crab shell glue could replace stitches, The West Australian, March 30, 2010
A stitch in time, Daily Telegraph, 31 March 2010, PG 24
- Developing technology to improve health outcomes in ocular surface and corneal disease; Watson S, Daniell M, Barthelmes D, Bosch M; Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (ORIA)/Research Grants.
- Development of an Ocular Adhesive Film with Local Drug Delivery to Prevent Infection and Inflammation in Corneal Wounds; Foster L, Watson S, Wakefield D; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- Therapeutics for repair and regeneration of the cornea; Watson S; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Career Development Fellowship.
- Zeiss Confocal Microscope, LSM700; McAvoy J, Martin P, Gillies M, Grunert U, Watson S, Lovicu F; DVC Research/Equipment Grant.
- A Band-aid for the eye: treatment of corneal wounds and ulcers; Watson S; University of New South Wales/Silverstar Award.
- Limbal Stem Cells; Watson S; University of New South Wales/Gold Star Award.
- Application of Novel sutureless technology for eye surgery; Watson S; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
- SurgiLux-Vancomycin; Watson S; University of New South Wales/Silverstar Award.
- A novel autologous contact-lens-based stem-cell-transfer technique for corneal reconstruction and vision restoration in patients with blinding corneal disease; Watson S; Australian Stem Cell Centre/Strategic Development Fund Grant.
- Limbal stem cells; Watson S; University of New South Wales/Faculty Research Grant.
Therapeutic Ocular Surface Medium: Clinical and in vitro studies (University of New South Wales, 2006)