Professor Keith Martin

CERA Managing Director, Head of Glaucoma Research

Professor Keith Martin is CERA’s Managing Director. His research focus is on glaucoma, particularly investigating new strategies to protect and regenerate the optic nerve.

Professor Keith Martin

CERA Managing Director, Head of Glaucoma Research


Professor Keith Martin is a clinician scientist ophthalmologist and Professor and Head of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne.

He was previously Professor and Head of Ophthalmology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Brain Repair at the University of Cambridge.

His research is focused on developing new strategies to protect and regenerate the optic nerve in glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. He was first in the world to demonstrate gene therapy and stem cell therapy could reduce retinal ganglion cell death in an experimental model of glaucoma.

A gene therapy for glaucoma developed in his lab is currently being progressed towards human clinical trials by a major pharmaceutical company. He has extensive experience in optic nerve injury models, including multiple animal models of glaucoma, retinal gene therapy and all relevant surgical techniques.

He is an experienced supervisor and mentor to graduate students, post docs and clinician scientists. Clinically, he specialises in the medical and surgical management of advanced glaucoma.

Key research questions
  • Can gene therapy be used to treat patients with glaucoma whose vision is deteriorating despite conventional treatment to lower the eye pressure?
  • Can we regenerate the damaged optic nerve to achieve useful restoration of vision?
  • Can Vitamin B3 supplementation protect or improve visual function in glaucoma patients?
  • Can high resolution imaging of aqueous outflow (Haemoglobin Video Imaging) help improve the efficacy of glaucoma surgery?

Current projects

Selected publications

My team

Key collaborators

Funding and support

Current projects

Gene therapy for glaucoma

Up to 1 in 8 patients with glaucoma go blind in at least one eye during their lifetime despite currently available treatments. We have developed a gene therapy that has been shown to protect vision in experimental models of glaucoma. We are currently working with Astellas Inc to progress this therapy towards human clinical trials.

Promoting retinal ganglion cell survival and optic nerve regeneration by enhancing transport of growth and survival receptors

We are using techniques that modulate axonal transport to protect retinal ganglion cells from the glaucomatous injury, and to stimulate orderly regrowth of injured axons. Integrins are molecules that can steer regeneration. This approach worked well for sensory neurons, however integrins are not efficiently transported in the optic nerve. We have studied the molecules that transport them. We found that if we manipulate integrin transport into axons other beneficial molecules come too, making the axon better at regenerating.

Our aim is to direct integrins and other molecules into the optic nerve. This should allow us to use integrins to make optic nerve axons regenerate, and to do this in an orderly fashion to their correct targets. Because integrins also bring other useful molecules with them, the approach should also protect optic nerve axons against damage.

The effect of Vitamin B3 supplementation on visual function in glaucoma

In a recent randomised clinical trial led by Professor Jonathan Crowston and Dr Flora Hui, 12 weeks of high-dose Vitamin B3 supplementation led to significant improvement in retinal function in patients with glaucoma.  We are currently working to assess whether this improvement in retinal function is associated with reduction in long-term glaucoma progression.

Slow release latanoprost implant for the treatment of glaucoma

We are currently working with PolyActiva to conduct a Phase 2 clinical trial to investigate the use of a novel slow release implant to control eye pressure in patients with glaucoma.

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