Photo of Prof Rachel Williams

Prof Rachel Williams BSc MS PhD CEng MIPEM FIMMM

Professor of Ophthalmic Bioengineering Eye and Vision Science

Research

Development of gels for ophthalmic applications

Peptide gels crosslinked with diacids of variable chain length
Peptide gels crosslinked with diacids of variable chain length

My group is developing novel peptide hydrogels for use in ocular applications. We have developed a specific formulation as a bandage contact lens with appropriate mechanical properties, a high water content and excellent transparency. We have developed strategies to enhance their antimicrobial properties and their potential to deliver antimicrobial agents to treat corneal infection. we are also developing these gels as a scaffold for tissue engineering in the cornea and other ocular tissues. Specifically we have demonstrated their potential for use in corneal endothelial transplantation.

Novel chemical Cross-linker for the treatment of keratoconus

Corneal epithelium post-treatment
Corneal epithelium post-treatment

Keratoconus is a progressive corneal thinning disorder, affecting young and working age people, in which the cornea becomes misshapen which significantly disrupts the refraction of light into the eye. We have developed and patented a novel chemical cross-linker that stiffens the cornea to a similar extent to current treatment options but has the advantage that it does not require the corneal epithelium to be removed, it does not require activation by UVA and does not cause toxicity to the cells within the cornea. We have been working closely with the Aravind Eye Care System to develop this technology.

Modification of silicone oil tamponades used to treat retinal detachment

Heavy silicone oil in model eye chamber
Heavy silicone oil in model eye chamber

My group has development modified silicone oils for enhanced treatment of retinal detachments. Siluron 2000 (Fluoron GmbH) has an increased extensional viscosity which increases the injectibility of the oil and should increase the emulsification resistance. This technology has been developed further leading to the launch of Siluron Xtra and Densiron Xtra

Research Group Membership

Research Grants

UKRMP 2 Acellular/Smart Materials – 3D architecture

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

April 2018 - March 2023

Study of response to substrates for subretinal transplant

JAMES KENT TRUST (UK)

October 2015 - December 2020

EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship 2016

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

July 2016 - March 2017

IPE stem cells for the treatment of retinal diseases

JAMES KENT TRUST (UK)

October 2017 - September 2021

Anti-microbial bandage contact lenses

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

November 2017 - October 2020

Peptide gels for corneal endothelial transplantation

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

April 2017 - March 2018

Creation of bio-synthetic corneal endothelial grafts for transplantation using novel peptide gels

FIGHT FOR SIGHT (UK)

October 2017 - December 2019

Antimicrobial Bandages for the Treatment of Wound Infections

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

May 2017 - April 2021

Bridging (Atikah Haneef)

FOUNDATION FOR THE PREVENTION OF BLINDNESS (UK)

August 2015 - December 2015

3-D printed peptide gel for synthetic corneal replacement

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

March 2016 - November 2016

Novel Chemical Crosslinking of the cornea for treatment of keratoconus

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

January 2016 - July 2018

The effect of a light based pre-treatment on the cellular response within the hypoxia disease model

POLYPHOTONIX LIMITED (UK)

May 2015 - October 2015

Building advanced materials to treat vision loss

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

August 2014 - July 2020

Clinical treatments for severe ophthalmic diseases

ROYAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING (UK)

November 2012 - October 2013

Advanced materials for tissue engineered solutions for vision loss

THE BRIAN MERCER CHARITABLE TRUST (UK), THE ULVERSCROFT FOUNDATION (UK)

October 2013 - September 2015

Surgical instruments and procedure for cell transplantation in AMD

MACULAR DISEASE SOCIETY (UK)

December 2011 - May 2013

Development of novel biological and novel synthetic substrates for the ex-vivo expansion of human conjunctiva as grafts in ocular surface reconstruction

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

August 2013 - August 2015

Micro-Plasma Technology for Controlling Cellular Interactions on Medical Implants

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

September 2009 - May 2013

Novel peptide gels for corneal endothelium cell transplantation

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

January 2015 - June 2015

light-based therapy to prevent and/or treat diabetic retinopathy

FOUNDATION FOR THE PREVENTION OF BLINDNESS (UK)

October 2012 - December 2013

Liverpool 3View: a national hub for 3D-EM bioscience research

BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL (BBSRC)

January 2014 - December 2014

Monolayer Deposition of Nanoparticles for Control of Cellular Response to Surfaces.

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

March 2001 - October 2001

Development of nanoparticulate surfaces that inhibit bacterial biofilm formation.

MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)

April 2004 - September 2005

Experimental studies of the mechanism of biological organisation.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

November 2009 - June 2011

The design and analysis of synthetic substrates for embryonic stem cell culture.

BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL (BBSRC)

July 2006 - December 2009

Heavy Tamponades in Vitreo-Retinal Surgery

WELLCOME TRUST (UK)

August 2008 - July 2010

Identification of colloid science routes to improve the clinical performance of tamponade agents.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

August 2005 - July 2006

Polymer degradation and its modification by gamma-irradiation under simulated physiological conditions.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

September 1997 - March 2001

KEL 12/29 - Improved Management of Meibomian Gland Dsyfunction

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

May 2012 - September 2012

Fundamental aspects of the electronic structure of biointeractions using high performance electron spectroscopy.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

October 2004 - September 2005

The influence of controlled surface chemical modification on the cellular response to biomaterials.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

January 1999 - December 2001

Developing a stem cell based therapy to replace nephrons lost through reflux nephropathy. EU - PROPOSAL NUMBER 036097-2 KIDSTEM

EUROPEAN COMMISSION

September 2006 - August 2010

Cross-Linked Actin Networks (CLANs). Are they a morphological fingerprint of trabecular meshwork cell malfunction in glaucoma that may be targeted as a new treatment direction?

THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (UK)

April 2006 - March 2009

Synthesis and Evaluation of a Smart Drug-Carrying Vitreous Substitute.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

February 1999 - January 2002

Design of synthetic substrates for the differentiation of kidney stem cells.

ROYAL SOCIETY (CHARITABLE)

April 2007 - March 2010

A novel approach to study the cellular response to directional loading in relation to biomedical implants.

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

July 2007 - December 2010

The Armourers and Brasiers’ Materials Science Venture Prize: Treatment of dentures to inhibit oral thrush

ARMOURERS AND BRASIERS COMPANY

January 2010 - January 2015

Modulating posterior capsule opacification using controlled drug delivery.

ROYAL LIVERPOOL AND BROADGREEN UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST (UK)

July 2000 - June 2003

The Formation and Function of CLAN's on Trabecular Meshwork cells

FIGHT FOR SIGHT (UK)

October 2006 - November 2009

Research Collaborations

Ahmed Elsheikh

Internal

Ophthalmic devices

Steve Rannard

Internal

Drug delivery in the eye

Peter Weightman

Internal

Surface analysis and biointeractions using RAS

Heather Allison

Internal

Nanoparticular silica for surface modification,

Patricia Murray

Internal

Substrates for embryonic stem cell self renewal

James Bradley

Internal

Atmospheric Plasmas for surface modification