Researcher

Dr Nicole Ann Carnt

Field of Research (FoR)

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Biography

About Me:
I graduated from University of NSW in Optometry in 1989 and worked in private practice for 10 years before taking a position with the Brien Holden Vision Institute in 1999, where I held a variety of roles, including Principal Investigator on contact lens clinical trials. I completed a PhD on Epidemiology of Contact Lens Related Infection and Inflammation 2008-12, while working part time as a project manager at UNSW. I was awarded a...view more

About Me:
I graduated from University of NSW in Optometry in 1989 and worked in private practice for 10 years before taking a position with the Brien Holden Vision Institute in 1999, where I held a variety of roles, including Principal Investigator on contact lens clinical trials. I completed a PhD on Epidemiology of Contact Lens Related Infection and Inflammation 2008-12, while working part time as a project manager at UNSW. I was awarded a NHMRC CJ Martin Biomedical Fellowship Early Career Fellowship in 2012 and spent the first 2.5 years at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, Europe’s largest tertiary eye hospital. Recently I worked with Clinical Associate Professor Andrew White and Professor Tony Cunningham at Westmead Institute for Medical Research primarily in the area of the host immune response to keratitis. I also remain affiliated with Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London.

Two Scientia PhD Scholarships linked to my research, are proposed for 2018. These scholarships are open for application until the 21st of July, 2017. For those interested, please see the "Related Links" at the bottom of the page for more information. 

RESEARCH
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 Goals: 

  • Understand the host immune and pathogen interaction in corneal infection to provide direction for better management and biologics discovery 
  • 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 limbal stem cell disease
  • Patient involvement in research.
Current Projects:
  • Host immune response to bacterial keratitis: tear, corneal gene expression, genetics
  • Nanodiagnosis of corneal infection
  • Quality of life and economic impact of keratitis 
  • Limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers 
  • Patient support and engagement in research 
TEACHING AND SUPERVISION
  • Vision science
  • Optometry
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Eye Infection and inflammation
Honorary Research Appointments:
  • University College London
  • Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
  • Westmead Institute for Medical Research

AWARDS AND HONOURS 

  • 2017-21 UNSW Scientia Fellowship, Faculty of Science, School of Optometry and Vision Science with Prof Fiona Stapleton
  • 2017 Understanding the immune response to eye infections: The hope for limiting sight threatening tissue damage; $30,000, Carnt N; USyd DVC Research/Laffan Fellowships.
  • 2015-17 An investigation of the host immune reaction in response to corneal infection, US$60,000, American Optometric Foundation Allergan Research Award, with A/Prof Andrew White
  • 2015 An in vivo study of the host immune response to corneal infection,AU$20,000 University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine, Kickstart Award
  • Jun, 2015-17: Investigating corneal limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers, $3,500 Cornea & Contact Lens Association of Australia, 
  • Nov 2014-15 A contemporary epidemiological case control study of Acanthamoeba Keratitis in the UK, £14,550, Fight for Sight Small Grant Award, with Prof John Dart and Dr Darwin Minassian
  • May 2014-15, The relationship between environmental sources and the susceptibility and severity of Acanthamoeba keratitis in the United Kingdom, £8,000, British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Dallos Research Award, with Dr Simon Kilvington
  • Nov 2013-Mar 2014, Acanthameoba keratitis and corneal dystrophy research personnel support, £11,000, NIHR Research Capability Funding Grant with Mr Stephen Tuft
  • Nov 2013-Dec 2015, Genotyping the host immune profile in Acanthamoeba keratitis, £14,786, Fight for Sight Small Grant Award, with Prof John Dart and Prof Alison Hardcastle
  • Nov 2013-Dec 2015, Tear cytokine levels in contact lens wearers with Acanthamoeba keratitis, US$19,695, J&J VisioncareInvestigator Led Research Grant with Dr Virginia Calder and Prof John Dart
  • March 2013-14, Genetic Risk Factors for the susceptibility and severity of contact lens related Acanthamoeba Keratitis, £9,849, Fight for Sight Small Grant Award, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology with Prof John Dart
  • 2012-16, Early Career Researcher CJ Martin Biomedical Research Fellowship, AU$433,000 National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government
  • 2011-12 Association of interleukin 17 single nucleotide polymorphisms with the susceptibility and severity of corneal infection and inflammation, US$25,000, Vistakon Research Grant, American Optometric Foundation, with Prof Mark Willcox and Prof Fiona Stapleton
  • 2012 Maki Shiobara Scholarship, AU$3,500 Optometric Vision Research Foundation, Australia
  • 2010-11 & 2011-12 Contact lens wearer susceptibility to complications due to risk taking behaviour and genetics, AU$7,000, Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia Research Award
  • 2010-11 & 2011-12 Ezell Fellow, US$19,000, American Optometric Foundation
  • 2009-10, Risk taking behaviour: relationship with contact lens complications and compliance, £5,000, Dallos Research Award, British Contact Lens Association, with Prof Fiona Stapleton
  • 2008-12, Contact lens wearer susceptibility to corneal infiltrative events due to risk taking behaviour and genetics, AU$96,653, Australian Postgraduate Award, Australian Government

IN THE MEDIA
Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Social Media Campaign: Healthy Contact lens wear (www.moorfields.nhs.uk/landing-page/healthy-habits-healthy-eyes)

Patient and Public Involvement in Research:

  • 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 
SELECTED GRANTS
 

2017   UNSW Scientia Fellowship, Faculty of Science, School of Optometry and Vision Science  Carnt N, Stapleton F, UNSW


2016   An investigation of the host immune reaction in response to corneal infection; Carnt N, White A; American Optometric Foundation/Allergan Foundation Research Grant.


2015  Investigation corneal limbal stem cell dysfunction in contact lens wearers; Carnt N; Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia/Research Award.


2012  Genetic eye disease; Carnt N; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Early Career Fellowships.

 
INTERNATIONAL LINKS
(UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, UCL/Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre) Investigation of the host genetic immune response to Acanthamoeba Keratitis, diagnosis of bacterial keratitis, genetics of corneal dystrophies and patient involvement in research initiatives. 

My Expertise

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

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Location

Rupert Myers Building