Meet the SCONe team

Meet the SCONe team. For all enquiries please contact

Professor Baljean Dhillon
SCONe Chief Investigator, Chair of Clinical Ophthalmology, The University of Edinburgh

I am Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, University of Edinburgh and hon. Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, Edinburgh. I have worked as an NHS consultant in Edinburgh for 30 years, in 1991 I established the AMD service and macular research programme. I lead the clinical academic ophthalmology programme at the School of Clinical Sciences, University of Edinburgh and have clinical research interests in retinal imaging, age-related macular degeneration, inherited retinal dystrophies, retinal vascular disorders and the retinal manifestations of systemic disease. I lead the postgraduate Masters programmes in Primary Care Ophthalmology and Clinical Ophthalmology, and sit on the Steering Committee UK Biobank Eyes and Vision Consortium. I have published widely on basic and applied research in retinal imaging, genetics and regenerative ophthalmology and lead the NHS R&D clinical trials evaluating new therapies for macular diseases. I serve on expert panels for the Medicines and Health Regulatory Authority and Scottish Medicines Consortium and Chair the Ophthalmology Board at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. I have been awarded research grants from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal Blind, the RS MacDonald Trust, Chief Scientist Office, UK Stem Cell Foundation, MRC Confidence in Concept and LifeArc.

Professor Niall Strang

SCONe Chief Investigator, Research Lead for the Vision Sciences Group, Glasgow Caledonian University

I am Professor and Research Lead for the Vision Research Group at Glasgow Caledonian University. Following completion of my PhD in 1995 I have held research and teaching posts at the University of Bradford, Queensland University of Technology and Glasgow Caledonian University. Research interests include refractive error development, public health, vision screening and assessment ( My teaching is predominantly in the areas of binocular vision, optics and refractive error development.


Dr Tom MacGillivray

SCONe PI, Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility Centre, Senior Research Fellow, The University of Edinburgh


Dr Tom MacGillivray is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh with more than 15 years’ experience facilitating clinical research that features optical imaging of the retina and computational analysis. This includes studies and publications on stroke, cardiovascular disease, MS, diabetes, kidney disease, dementia and age-related cognitive change. In close collaboration with the University of Dundee, he co-ordinates an interdisciplinary initiative called VAMPIRE (Vascular Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina; in which the aim is efficient, semi-automatic analysis of retinal images and the pursuit of disease biomarker identification. In addition, Dr MacGillivray runs a specialised research facility as part of the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility ( joint with Edinburgh Imaging group ( at the University for medical image analysis.  His team staffs a computer laboratory and ophthalmic imaging suite and provides expert support to investigators accessing data from a variety of imaging modalities including MR, CT, PET and ultrasound as well as optical imaging of the retina. As a Principal Investigator in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, MacGillivray leads a research program on retinal imaging with a team that comprises PhD students and post-doctoral researchers with additional contributions from undergraduate student projects.

Dr Miguel Bernabeu
SCONe PI, Research Fellow, Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh


I’m a Computer Scientist by training and hold a PhD in Computational Biology by the University of Oxford (2011) and postdoctoral experience at University College London. In 2015, I joined the The University of Edinburgh with a prestigious Chancellor’s Fellowship where I established my first research group at the Centre for Medical Informatics, Usher Institute. Promotion to Senior Lecturer followed in 2019. My group's research is on vascular structure and function. Our approach is theoretical through mathematical modelling and machine learning and we work closely with vascular/cancer biologists and clinicians. My research interests concern: a) the mechanistic study of vascular remodelling during angiogenesis, b) the development of image-based methods for diagnosis of vascular conditions in retinal scans, and c) the study of transport phenomena in the tumour microenvironment. In addition to the SCONe funders, I gratefully acknowledge funding from Fondation Leducq, European Commission, EPSRC, MRC, British Heart Foundation, The Alan Turing Institute, and Diabetes UK.

Dr Andrew Tatham

Andrew is a consultant ophthalmologist at Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, Edinburgh and an NHS Scotland Research Clinician. He is Deputy Chair of the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Ophthalmology Clinical Research Network Glaucoma Study Group, a member of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists Scientific Committee and a member of European Glaucoma Society Communication, Guidelines and Programme Planning Committees. He is also one of the 25 members of the British Eye Research Group. He is editor of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ Focus series and an editor of the World Glaucoma Association’s International Glaucoma Review.


Andrew was trained at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and Shiley Eye Institute, University of California San Diego. His research interests now focus on retinal imaging, remote disease monitoring, and new methods of drug delivery. He is a past recipient of the ARVO Innovative Research Award, Tenovus Scotland Lady Illingworth Award and Pfizer Ophthalmic Fellowship. In his spare time he is a qualified classifier for the British Paralympic Association.

A photograph of Dr Alice McTrusty.
SCONe Research Fellow, The University of Edinburgh

I am an IP qualified Optometrist and hold a PhD from Glasgow Caledonian University. My thesis was “An investigation of visual function in axial myopia”. In addition to being a Retinal Imaging Research Fellow on the SCONe project, I also hold the position of Education Lead – Optometry at NHS Education for Scotland (NES). I have extensive clinical experience having worked in community optometric practice, the hospital eye service and the diabetic retinopathy screening service. I previously held a lectureship at Glasgow Caledonian University Vision Sciences department where I taught a variety of subjects to both undergraduate and post graduate students with a focus on Clinical Ophthalmology and Retinal Imaging. I have previously worked at The University of Edinburgh as a Research Optometrist, where I was part of a small team that developed a new objective visual field test. 

A photograph of Dr Claire Tochel
SCONe Research Fellow, The University of Edinburgh

I’ve been a health data researcher and analyst for almost 20 years since completing my Ph.D. in ophthalmology & physiology at Glasgow University, during which I explored the early detection of glaucoma. Since then I’ve worked in academia and the health service in a variety of roles involving both local projects and national & international collaborations. Although I’ve developed and carried out some primary research, most of my experience is in the secondary use of healthcare evidence including clinical guideline development, Health Technology Assessments and systematic reviews. During the last 8 years or so I have moved towards a focus on the acquisition and analysis of administrative & routinely collected data to facilitate health research, including three years with UKBiobank. Details of all my publications and previous roles can be found here: 

Photo of Heather Anderson SCONe project researcher
SCONe Retinal Imaging Research Associate, The University of Edinburgh

I am an optometrist, graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2021. During my undergraduate degree, I was awarded Best Optometry Student in Clinical Ophthalmology and Best Overall 3rd Year Student in Optometry. My dissertation subject was “Less Time Spent Outdoors as a Risk Factor for Myopia”.

I currently divide my time between the SCONe Project at The University of Edinburgh and locum work in community practice. In the future, I would also like to complete a Masters degree and independent prescribing. I am interested in research and academia.

Jordan Watson
SCONe Retinal Imaging Research Associate, The University of Edinburgh

I am a Qualified Optometrist with a special interest in Paediatrics (specifically Autism) and Low Vision (specifically Age-Related Macular Degeneration). I have a variety of roles at present working between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Highland, NHS Lanarkshire and Glasgow Caledonian University alongside my role with SCONe at University of Edinburgh. I am currently studying for a PhD in Visual Perception at Glasgow Caledonian University entitled “Developing a Novel Test of Facial Expression Recognition” funded by the College  of Optometrists.


Dr Malihe Javidi
SCONe Research Fellow on Computer Vision in Medicine, The University of Edinburgh

Currently, I’m working as a Research Fellow on Computer Vision in Medicine at the Usher Institute of the University of Edinburgh. Prior to this, I worked as a Research Associate Fellow in Biomedical Signal and Image Processing at Heriot-Watt University. I have been officially cooperating with Quchan University, Iran, as an assistant professor since 2018. I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in computer engineering from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran, in 2006 and 2008, respectively, both with honours. I completed my Ph.D. with a specialization in artificial intelligence from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, in 2018. My research interests include Image Processing and Computer Vision, Medical Image Processing, and Machine Learning, especially Deep Learning. Details of all my publications and previous experiences can be found here: 


Ana Rubio, SCONe Research Associate
SCONe Research Associate, The University of Edinburgh

I am a dedicated Medical Anthropologist committed to advancing public health through research and community engagement strategies. In my current role as a Research Associate at SCONe, I am taking the lead in designing and executing PPI research to ensure that its technology aligns with societal expectations and healthcare requirements. Drawing from my academic background in Biology and an MSc in Medical Anthropology from The University of Edinburgh, I have seamlessly integrated my academic career with practical experience in the field of public health. Before pursuing my master’s degree, I actively coordinated and conducted research initiatives aimed at addressing healthcare accessibility barriers, with a keen focus on engaging diverse perspectives in multidisciplinary settings. This hands-on experience has honed my skills in community engagement within public health, enabling me to bridge the gap between research findings and real-world impact. My ultimate goal is to empower communities to actively participate in shaping research and policies for improved health outcomes.


Picture of SCONe project manager Jon Penny
Project Manager, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh 

I joined the team in October 2022 as the Project Manager for SCONe. I have a background in NHS Quality Improvement, having previously worked for 17 years for a large acute hospital NHS Trust in the south west of England as a Clinical Audit Facilitator / Manager. For part of that time, I supported work at the Bristol Eye Hospital and am happy to now be working for a project that has such huge potential to improve eye healthcare.





Picture of SCONe retinal image analysis fellow Sam Watts
SCONe Research Fellow in Retinal Image Analysis, The University of Edinburgh

I’m a Research Fellow in Retinal Image Analysis at The University of Edinburgh, developing novel retinal image analysis algorithms using machine learning to predict disease. I studied Organic Chemistry and Neuroscience at undergraduate level at UCL, before moving into industry as a data scientist. I started off working for John Lewis on problems such as item level demand forecasting, supply chain optimisation and counterfactual experiment analysis. I then specialized in recommendation systems, helping to optimize the product recommendations on I also had the chance to lead a small team of data engineers and scientists in this team. Most recently, I worked for Too Good To Go where I built the recommendation system from scratch, with the goal of improving the user experience.


Dr Emma Paed
SCONe PDR, Research Fellow in Retinal Image Analysis, The University of Edinburgh

I’m a Research Fellow in Retinal Image Analysis at The University of Edinburgh, developing novel retinal image analysis algorithms using artificial intelligence to identify retinal biomarkers associated with diseases of the retina, body and brain. I have an undergraduate in molecular biology from The University of Edinburgh and a Masters in Bioinformatics, Systems Biology and Polyomics from the University of Glasgow.  I then moved to The University of Edinburgh for a PhD in Clinical Sciences which focused on the development of deep learning algorithms to detect drusen in ultra-widefield retinal images in the context of Alzheimer’s disease. In my current postdoctoral position, working with Professor Baljean Dhillon and Dr Tom MacGillivray, I continue this research with focus on the automatic detection of early age-related macular degeneration in retinal images. I recently presented early results of SCONe at the Scottish Ophthalmological Club meeting 2020 and Women in Vision UK 2019 and was awarded best presentation and best poster, respectively. My main interests include multidisciplinary approaches to image analysis and biomarker discovery to drive healthcare innovation.


Photograph of SCONe research optometrist Fiona Buckmaster
SCONe Research Optometrist, The University of Edinburgh

I’m an Optometrist and divide my time between working in community practice and research at The University of Edinburgh. During my undergraduate degree in Optometry at Glasgow Caledonian University I was awarded UK Student of the Year (2014) and European Student of the Year (2015) at the Future of Ocular Research Creativity Events (FORCE). I have a PgCert in International Healthcare Management and have just completed my MSc in Public Health and Health Promotion. My current focus is on public health systems and new technologies in eye care, particularly the role of technology in providing universal access to high quality eye care.

I have worked and travelled extensively across Western and Southern Africa, and currently hold a voluntary position with Vision Action as an optometry tutor.