Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Professor Baljean Dhillon

Professor Bal Dhillon explores how the signs of dysfunction and disease in the eye might yield valuable insight into parallel processes occurring in the brain.

Professor Baljean Dhillon

NES Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology

  • Division of Health Sciences & Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
  • Hon. Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, NHS Lothian
  • Hon. Professor of Visual Impairment Studies, Heriot Watt University

Contact details

Biography

  • Childhood and school in Leicester, graduated from Nottingham University Medical School
  • Junior house officer posts in renal medicine and neurosurgery and ophthalmology training in Plymouth, London, Singapore and Edinburgh
  • Appointed Consultant 1991, specialising in cataract surgery and medical retina diseases

Research summary

The retina is the only site in the human body where we can make direct observations of our smallest blood vessels and capillaries within specialised neural tissue. This neurovascular tissue is derived from our brains during development.

The eye’s unique accessibility allows us to study the neurovascular links and common mechanisms giving rise to eye and brain disease. Identification of changes in the neuroretina to predict parallel processes in central nervous system tissue allows the eye to be used as both a window to, and barometer of brain change in neurodegenerative diseases.

Wide-field image of the retina
Wide-field imaging of the retina.

Research aims and interests

The purpose of CCBS eye research is to explore how the signs of dysfunction and disease in the eye might yield valuable insight into parallel processes occurring in the brain.

Specifically we plan to utilise advanced imaging tools to dissect and interrogate ocular tissues to test the hypothesis that neurovascular disease detectable in the eye mirrors brain change in chronic neurological disease.

This links to research interests in the common and blinding neurodegenerative disorders affecting the eye, namely glaucoma and macular degeneration which are the focus of our studies of ocular imaging, genetics, stem cell research and visual rehabilitation.

Teaching

The ChM Clinical Ophthalmology has been designed to support, supplement and advance clinical learning, develop clinical research skills and provide a platform from which ophthalmologists in training are mentored during this 2 year distance learning postgraduate programme. 

The format of our ChM course delivery incorporates a multimedia mix of teaching tools including asynchronous discussion boards, video lectures, virtual clinics and e-portfolio reflective diaries. The international teaching Faculty has the experience and expertise to deliver clinically-relevant content across the range of medical and surgical ophthalmology to a global studentship.

The Faculty are mindful of the varied culture, climate and geographic contexts in which students practice ophthalmology and the limitations in resources available in less affluent settings. This has shaped the way in which didactic and discursive topics are prioritised and practiced within the virtual learning environment and is one of the unique features of the ChM Clinical Ophthalmology.

Research group members

  • Dr Andrew Tatham, NRS Fellow and Consultant Ophthalmologist
  • Dr Roshini Sanders, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Hon. Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Shyamanga Borooah, PhD student
  • Dr Ian MacCormick, Ophthalmologist and PhD student
  • Dr James Cameron, PhD student
  • Mr Howard Moshtael, EngD student
  • Ms Josie Grant, PhD student
  • Mr Tom Pearson, PhD student
  • Ms Ellie Brown, Research Assistant

Collaborators

  • Professor Siddharthan Chandran, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Peter Aspinall, Heriot Watt University
  • Professor Ian Underwood, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Manuel Trucco, University of Dundee
  • Professor Marc Turner, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service
  • Professor Rory Duncan, Heriot Watt University
  • Professor Tariq Aslam, University of Manchester
  • Dr Tom MacGillivray, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Jim Ross, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Ian Deary, University of Edinburgh

Sources of funding

  • UK Stem Cell Foundation
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Medical Research Council (CASE and Confidence in Concept)
  • Royal College of Surgeons
  • Chief Scientist Office
  • Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation

Other information