NIHR-supported researcher Professor Yu Wai Man appointed Chair of Ophthalmology in Cambridge

We are delighted to report that Professor Patrick Yu Wai Man has recently been appointed Chair of Ophthalmology at the University of Cambridge.

Prof. Yu Wai Man has been funded by the NIHR Moorfields BRC since his appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital in 2014. He is a Principal Investigator affiliated with the Cambridge Clinical Mitochondrial Research Group (MitoCAMB), the Cambridge Brain Repair Centre and the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit. In 2021, he was awarded an NIHR Advanced Fellowship, jointly funded by our BRC and Moorfields Eye Charity, to evaluate patient outcomes and therapies for inherited optic neuropathies.

Over many years, NIHR support has allowed Prof. Yu Wai Man to build a unique cohort of patients with inherited optic neuropathies (genetic disorders affecting the optic nerve). You can read more about inherited optic neuropathies below.

Commenting on his new role at the University of Cambridge, one of the world’s top four universities for medicine and life sciences*, Prof. Yu Wai Man said:

“I am very excited by this new appointment, which will open up further opportunities to strengthen the links between Cambridge, Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.”

Together with his team, Prof. Yu Wai Man has recently published promising data on gene therapy for patients with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), which is an important cause of irreversible blindness among young adult men. This new treatment will be the subject of a new NIHR-funded trial, REVIVE, which we look forward to reporting on in due course.

About inherited optic neuropathies

Inherited optic neuropathies affect at least 1 in 10,000 people in the UK. They are a major cause of blindness in children and young adults, with significant personal and socioeconomic consequences. The defining feature of this group of disorders is the selective degeneration of the optic nerve – the specialised cable that channels visual information from the eye to the vision centres in the brain. All the genetic defects that have been identified so far affect mitochondria – the so-called powerhouses of the cell – which produce all the energy needed for normal cell function and survival.

Prof. Yu Wai Man runs an optic nerve genetics clinic at Moorfields that receives referrals from across the UK. As a member of the Moorfields Genetics Service, he has access to advanced genetic testing and, importantly, the multidisciplinary team needed to interpret the results for more complex clinical cases. Over the years, they have assembled one of the largest cohorts of patients in the world with a genetically confirmed diagnosis of an inherited optic neuropathy. This rich resource allows the team to:

  • Better understand disease progression and the factors that influence visual prognosis.

  • Recruit patients into trials of advanced therapies, in particular, gene therapy.

  • Further expand their sample biobank (with biological samples generously donated by patients) to better understand the disease mechanisms driving optic nerve degeneration and visual loss in inherited optic neuropathies.

Prof. Yu Wai Man also works closely with a number of patient-led organisations, including the Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) Society, the Cure ADOA Foundation, and Wolfram Syndrome UK. These organisations are working hard to raise awareness of rare diseases among key decision-makers, as well as providing information for patients and raising funds.

Find out more

*See QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022

Professor Patrick Yu Wai Man

Professor Patrick Yu Wai Man