Researcher

Associate Professor Nicole Ann Carnt

My Expertise

Optometry; Vision; Ophthalmology; Biological markers; Infection and immunity; Microbiology 

Fields of Research (FoR)

Optometry and Ophthalmology, Immunogenetics (incl. Genetic Immunology), Clinical Microbiology

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Biography

I am a Scientia Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Research at School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, Sydney. I lead a program of research into behavioural and host immune susceptibility to eye infections at UNSW and Westmead Institute for Medical Research. I have Honorary appointments with University of Sydney and University College London. I am the inaugural Chair of Australian Standards Contact Lens Committee and serve as an...view more

I am a Scientia Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Research at School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, Sydney. I lead a program of research into behavioural and host immune susceptibility to eye infections at UNSW and Westmead Institute for Medical Research. I have Honorary appointments with University of Sydney and University College London. I am the inaugural Chair of Australian Standards Contact Lens Committee and serve as an International Standards Organization Expert since 2019.  I am Topical Editor of 4 leading Optometry journals, an elected Council Member of the International Society of Contact Lens Researchers, and British Contact Lens Association Global Champion.  I convene a UNSW Optometry Clinical Masters course (80 students each) and am the Alumni Event Co-Coordinator.


My Grants

 

2021 Kang, Watt, Carnt, Stapleton, Willcox, Parmenter, Broderick, Simar, Helfensdorfer, Laws, Torda, Infection Prevention Control in Allied Health Practice Guidelines. Australian Council of Deans of Health Sciences $15,000

2021 Carnt, Willcox, Ball, Henriquez, Petsoglou, Tracking the source of corneal infection: investigation of Acanthamoeba in an Australian water supply. UNSW, Sydney, Science Industry Seed Funding Grant (with WaterNSW) AU$15,000

2020-22 Carnt, The immunobiology of corneal infections. UNSW, Sydney, Category 1 Near Miss Bequest Grant, $10,000

2020-22 Carnt, Cunningham, Preventing sight loss from cold sores of the eyes. Rebecca Cooper Foundation Grant $100,000

2019 Keating, Carnt, Ho, Segaram In the blink of an eye: Computational modelling of tear film dynamics. UNSW, Sydney, Science Industry Seed Funding Grant (with TeleMedC LLC) AU$45,500

2018 Dehghani, Cunningham, Samarawickrama, Wu, Carnt, White. Novel protein therapeutics for the treatment of corneal Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infection. USyd, Westmead Engineering and Design Collaboration, $15,000

2017 Carnt. The immunobiology of corneal inflammation in contact lens wear, UNSW Scientia Fellowship, $608,692

2017 Carnt. Understanding the immune response to eye infections USyd Laffan Scholarship, $30,000

2016 Carnt. Tear cytokine profiles in Acanthamoeba Keratitis, Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Conference, Baltimore, May, 2017, University of Sydney ECR Travel Scholarship  $2,500

2016 Carnt. Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society Conference Travel Award, Montpelier, Sept TFOS  US$3,500

2016 Carnt, Stapleton, Tan. The Effect of ‘No Water’ Packaging Stickers on the Behavior of Contact Lens Wearers Alcon Investigator Led Study US$36,178

2015 Carnt, White. An investigation of the host immune reaction in response to corneal infection              American Optometric Foundation Allergan Research Award US$60,000

2015 Carnt. An in vivo study of the host immune response to corneal infection, University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine, Kickstart Award AU$20,000

2015 Carnt, Investigating corneal limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers. Cornea and Contact Lens Association of Australia Research Award AU $3,500

2014 Dart, Carnt, Minassian, A contemporary epidemiological case control study of Acanthamoeba Keratitis in the UK, Fight for Sight, Small grant award  £14,550

2014 Carnt, Kilvington. The relationship between environmental sources and the susceptibility and severity of Acanthamoeba keratitis in the UK BCLA, Dallos Research Award 2015 £8,000

2013 Tuft, Carnt. Corneal Research Study Personnel Support, NIHR Research Capability Funding Grant £11,247  

2013 Dart, Carnt. Genotyping the host immune profile in Acanthamoeba keratitis, Fight for Sight Grant (Ref 2004), £13,954

2013 Carnt, Dart, Calder, Tear cytokine levels in contact lens wearers with Acanthamoeba keratitis, J&J Visioncare Investigator Led Grant, US$19,695

2013 Dart, Carnt. Acanthamoeba Keratitis audit MEH Special Trustees, MEC 13 07 A/B  £12,510

2012 Dart, Carnt, Hardcastle Genetic risk factors for the susceptibility and severity of contact lens related Acanthamoeba keratitis. Fight for Sight Small grant award    £9,849

2012 Carnt, Genetic Eye Disease, EC Researcher CJ Martin Biomedical Research Fellowship, NHMRC $422,988

2011 Carnt, Association of IL-17 single nucleotide polymorphisms with the susceptibility and severity of keratitis in contact lens wearers US$25,000

2010/11 Carnt, Cornea and Contact Lens Association of Australia CCLSA Research Award 2010 & 2011, AU$7,000

2009 Carnt, Stapleton British Contact Lens Association, Dallos Research Award 2010, Risk taking behaviour: relationship with contact lens complications and compliance. £5,000


My Qualifications

BOptom (Hons), PhD, GradCertOcTher, FAAO, FBCLA


My Awards

 

2021 British Contact Lens Association Global Ambassador (2021-2023)

2020 Faculty of Science UNSW, Sydney Dean’s Award for Science Communication

2019 School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW Sydney, “Builds Collaboration” Award

2019 British Contact Lens Association, Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture

2018 Faculty of Science, UNSW, Sydney Champion for Girls in Science and Mathematics

2018 UNSW, Sydney, Science Award for Research Excellence-Engagement and Knowledge Exchange

2012 American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting, Best Scientific Poster Presentation

2011 Optometric Vision Research Foundation (OVRF) Maki Shiobara Scholarship, AU$5,000

2010/11 American Optometric Foundation, Ezell Fellowship 2010 & 2011, US$19,000

2008 Australian Government, Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)


My Research Activities

The primary goal of my research is to develop diagnostic biomarkers and interventions to decrease the incidence and morbidity of conditions that disrupt homeostasis of the cornea. These conditions include corneal infection (microbial keratitis) and limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers.  

Research Aims:  

  • Understand the host immune and pathogen interaction in corneal infection to provide direction for better management and biologics discovery 
  • Prevention of contact lens related infections and quality of life of patients
  • Determine markers of limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers
  • Involve and engage corneal disease patients, carers and relatives in research and support networks that will enhance their quality of life and provide targeted direction for research 

Research Interests:

  • Genetic susceptibility to cornea infection
  • Anterior eye disease immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Quality of life
  • Limbal stem cell disease in contact lens wear
  • Patient involvement in research.

Current Projects:

  • Host immune response to bacterial keratitis: tear, corneal gene expression, genetics
  • Nanodiagnosis of corneal infection
  • Prevention of corneal infection in contact lens wear
  • Quality of life and economic impact of keratitis 
  • Limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers 
  • Patient support and engagement in research 

My Research Supervision


Supervision keywords


Areas of supervision

Genetic epidemiology of eye disease

OMICs of corneal infection and inflammation

Acanthamoeba keratitis diagnosis and management

Herpes Simplex keratitis immunology and quality of life

Hyperspectral, in vivo confocal and nanoparticle techniques in eye disease

Patient involvement and engagement in research

Healthy contact lens wear: practitioner and wearer partnerships


Currently supervising

Metabolomics of corneal infection (UNSW Scientia PhD Scholar)

Nanodiagnosis of Acanthamoeba keratitis (UNSW Scientia PhD Scholar) with UNSW School of Chemical Engineering (Dr Sophia Gu)

Improving adherence of contact lens wear (2 UNSW Scientia PhD Scholars) with UNSW Psychology (Dr Kate Faasse)

The effect of endosymbionts on the severity of Acanthamoeba Keratitis (UNSW TFS PhD Candidate)

The immunology of Herpes Simplex Keratitis (USyd RTP PhD Candidate) with Westmead Institute for Medical Research (Prof Tony Cunningham)

Hyperspectral imaging of ROS in Glaucoma (UNSW Scientia PhD Scholar) with UNSW Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering (Sharp Prof Ewa Goldys and A/Prof Andrew White)

The quality of life of patients with Keratitis (UNSW RTP PhD Candidate) with SHARP Prof Konrad Pesudovs and Dr Sheela Kumaran

Neuroprotection in glaucoma (UNSW RTP PhD Candidate) with A/Prof Andrew White and Dr Ushasree Pattamatta


My Engagement

  • The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/how-to-keep-your-contact-lenses-clean-and-what-can-go-wrong-if-you-dont-141117 ; Published 7 Aug, 2020
  • Australian Financial Review (online 25/9 in print 26/9 page 44-45 https://www.afr.com/lifestyle/health/mens-health/rare-contact-lens-infection-outbreak-in-the-uk-is-a-concern-for-australia-too-20180924-h15tah )
  • UNSW Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Social Media Campaign: Healthy Contact Lens Wear
  • NIHR Moorfields/ UCL Biomedical Research Centre Cornea Acanthamoeba patient support and awareness program (2014) Acanthamoeba Keratitis patient-led Patient Information Leaflet; Patient and clinician focus group (April); BCLA Exhibition Stall: Improving compliance in CL wear; Research study: Do CL packaging “No water” warning stickers improve contact lens compliance
  • MHRA Informal Group on Contact Lens Related Infections: Invited Member (2014)
  • NIHR Moorfields/ UCL Biomedical Research Centre Cornea Patient Day (2013) Acanthamoeba Keratitis patient and carer research update and focus group exercise, London, Oct
  • James Lind Alliance/Fight for Sight Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership (2013) Setting priorities for corneal and external eye diseases research workshop, Invited participant London, April


My Teaching

OPTM6423: Therapeutics and the Posterior Eye (Masters of Clinical Optometry) Course Convenor, since 2017

OPTM7308: Research Project (Masters of Optometry) Supervisor, since 2017

Westmead Applied Medical Science Honours Supervisor, since 2019

 

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Location

School of Optometry and Vision Science
Level 3, Room 3.010
North Wing, Rupert Myers Building

Contact

+61 2 9065 0387
0403976245