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Mr Faith Uche Ukachukwu

Research project: Understanding and preventing ocular damage in bacterial eye infections

Abstract

When an infant is born to a mother infected with the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae, up to 48% will develop ophthalmia neonatorum and up to 10% of those who receive prophylaxis will still develop infection. The bacteria cause ulceration of the cornea, perforation, and inflammation, which can lead to significant visual loss or blindness, even with treatment. Up to 80% of women do not know that they are infected, as they do not have symptoms. Diagnoses of cases of gonorrhoea have doubled between 2008 and 2013, with 29,291 new cases in 2013 in England. Over the years, Neisseria gonorrhoeae has developed resistance to the antibiotics used against it, such that now no single antibiotic is recommended. Instead, third generation cephalosporins, the former recommend antimicrobial of choice, are used in combination with azithromycin, due to resistance reported in Japan. Since then, resistant isolates have been reported in North America and Europe, including a recent outbreak in Leeds. The molecular and genetic mechanisms that underlie the pathogenesis of gonococcal eye infections are poorly understood. A great deal of the focus of gonococcal research is on the sexually transmitted infection and its impact upon reproductive health. With the rise in multi-drug antibiotic resistance, we are facing a future of untreatable gonorrhoea. In 1880, the pre-antibiotic era, up to 79% of children in institutions for the blind had been blind since birth due to gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum. Without effective treatment infants and adults face a future similar to the pre-antibiotic past. The aims of this PhD project will be to identify the underlying pathogenesis mechanisms responsible for ocular damage, including perforation and corneal melt that occur during infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Using this knowledge it may be possible to develop a treatment that can prevent damage by interfering with these mechanisms.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Understanding and preventing ocular damage in bacterial eye infections
  • Research supervisor: Dr Lori Snyder
  • Other research supervisor: Professor Raid Alany

Biography

I have practised as an Optometrist for over 6 years and my experience span primary and tertiary healthcare. I am a trained public health expert with research interest in eye and vision, infectious diseases, epidemiology, inequalities, health policy.

My research work include:

Prevalence of Pinguecula and Pterygium among commercial motorists and tricyclists (Case study of Owerri metropolis) 

Distribution of refractive errors in children in an urban population in Nigeria (Published)

Pearls for Low vision evaluation (Oral presentation)

Low vision management: maximizing functional vision in albinos (Oral presentation)

Systematic review of comparative effectiveness of fixed latanoprost timolol therapy and other standard interventions fixed with timolol for lowering IOP in glaucoma

Trachoma elimination in Yobe state Nigeria: Will it be a ''SAFE'' end or dead end in 2020 (Published Abstract)

I want to be a global health expert researching ocular infectious diseases and developing effective interventions to manage them.

Areas of research interest

  • Ocular infectious diseases
  • Vision science
  • Global health
  • Inequalities

Qualifications

  • Master in Public Health, University of Chester, UK
  • Doctor of Optometry, Imo State University, Nigeria

Funding or awards received

  • Bursary award from Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing towards PhD (£10,000) 2018
  • Westminster Scholarship Award (towards MPH degree £7,560) 2016 - 2017
  • Chester Difference Excellence Award by University of Chester (Careers and Employability) November 2017
  • Chester Difference Plus Award by University of Chester (Careers and Employability) June, 2017
  • Plaque of Appreciation awarded by Nigerian Optometric Association (Lagos Branch) for contribution towards the growth of Eye care delivery in Nigeria March, 2014.
  • National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Kwara State Coordinator's Commendation Certificate of Merit Award February, 2014
  • Staff of the year award by Acuview Eye Clinic, Nigeria December, 2011
  • Nigerian Optometric Association (Imo State Chapter) Best Graduating Student Award (Optometry), 2010

Publications

Distribution of refractive errors in children in an urban population in Nigeria

Trachoma elimination in Yobe state Nigeria: Will it be a ''SAFE'' end or dead end in 2020 (Published Abstract)

Conference papers

Pearls for Low vision evaluation 

Low vision management: maximizing functional vision in albinos 

Trachoma elimination in Yobe state Nigeria: Will it be a ''SAFE'' end or dead end in 2020 

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