Careers and study

Development of an anti-scarring eye drop for Epidermolysis Bullosa

This research position is open to expressions of interest from PhD students.

Project description

Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is an inherited blistering disease of the skin and mucous membranes, including the cornea. Living with this disease is like living with third degree burns.

An international patient survey on EB in 2020 reported patients expressing corneal erosions ‘‘usually completely shut down my life’’ and ‘‘are one of the worst secondary issues associated with EB, if not the most painful.’’

Corneal erosions cause acute eye pain and need prompt treatment to alleviate symptoms.

Clinical treatments including contact lenses and antibiotics are often used to minimize further damage to the eye. However, these approaches do little to improve corneal wound healing or reduce scarring.

An anti-scarring treatment to prevent vision loss is currently lacking for EB patients with corneal erosions.

We have identified an anti-scarring factor and aim to validate the efficacy of this factor via in vitro models of recessive dystrophic EB and Junctional EB in human corneal cells and corneal-scarring mouse models. The PhD program aims to understand the molecular mechanism underpinning EB-induced corneal scarring and develop an anti-scarring eye drop for EB.

The project aims to:

  • Establish in vitro models of EB-induced corneal scarring in human corneal cells
  • Investigate the molecular mechanism of EB-induced corneal scarring using RNA sequencing
  • Test the anti-scarring factor in two corneal scarring mouse models.

Structure of supervision

Project role Name Research expertise Department & Faculty Email
Principal supervisor Dr Gink Yang Regenerative medicine and corneal biology CERA, MDHS gyang@cera.org.au
Co-supervisor Dr Luis Alarcon-Martinez Ocular neuroscience and imaging CERA, MDHS luis.alarconmartinez@unimelb.edu.au


Co-supervisor Prof Mark Daniell Clinical ophthalmology CERA, MDHS daniellm@unimelb.edu.au


Co-supervisor Dr Manisha Shah Ocular fibrosis CERA, MDHS shah.m@unimelb.edu.au


Requirement for candidates

The potential candidate must be a domestic or international graduate of First-Class Honours or Master’s (WAM>87) with a background in regenerative medicine, clinical ophthalmology, bioinformatics or biomedical science. The student must meet the PhD entry requirements for ‘tuition fee offset’ guidelines set out by University of Melbourne.

International candidates ought to meet a minimal ILETS score of 7.


The student must start onsite by 27 June 2024.


Full institute-based stipend of $37,000 for 3.5 years (negotiable to extend to 4 years).

To learn more or apply for this opportunity, please email Dr Gink Yang at gyang@cera.org.au


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