CERA

About

Dr Srujana Sahebjada

Senior Research Fellow, Corneal Research

Dr Srujana Sahebjada is an optometrist and research scientist with a special interest in keratoconus.

Dr Srujana Sahebjada

Senior Research Fellow, Corneal Research

PhD, BS Optom, GCALL

Dr Srujana Sahebjada is a clinician-scientist with a strong research interest in corneal disease, vision restoration and assessment of visual performance.

Dr Sahebjada, along with Professor Mark Daniell and Professor Paul Baird, established the Keratoconus International Consortium (KIC). KIC is a global approach entailing a large-scale, international collaboration to enhance the understanding of keratoconus, a corneal condition that can cause teenagers and young adults to go blind.

Dr Sahebjada also holds a co-appointment at the Department of Surgery (Ophthalmology), University of Melbourne (UoM) where she is working on a prestigious NHMRC funded research program that focusses on using artificial intelligence and novel technology to detect and monitor corneal disease.

This research will lead to a significant step forward in corneal research in developing objective screening tool that has the potential to improve the detection of mild ectatic corneas without requiring preliminary expertise in interpreting corneal imaging.

Dr Sahebjada is the project manager for the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Cross- linking (a recent treatment that slows keratoconus progression) Registry, developed to monitor the effectiveness and safety of cross- linking from around Australia.

Dr Sahebjada established the Australian Study of Keratoconus (ASK), one of the world’s largest projects on keratoconus, and her interactions with the subjects during the patient recruitment phase have led to the research program – “Economic impact of Keratoconus -a patient’s perspective”.

The findings from this program were used by Professor Mark Daniell (Ex-President, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologist) to lodge a successful request in 2017 to the Department of Health, Australia to have cross linking included in the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Thousands of Australians with KC will benefit from a Medicare rebate of $1,200 for corneal collagen cross-linking as first line treatment to slow the disease progression from 1st May 2018.

In addition to her research career, Dr Sahebjada has been co-supervising and mentoring postgraduate students for over 6 years nationally and internationally and has also been involved in a number of overseas programs to provide eye care and health education.

Dr Sahebjada is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, India and leads the research and optometrist team at that hospital. She is also the Editor in Chief for the Alumni of the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) Optometrists Blog and Newsletters, which actively publishes articles related to the accomplishments of the LVPEI alumni and interesting clinical cases.

Dr Sahebjada received the CERA Community Award (2016) in recognition of her active community involvement and commitment to research translation. She prides in her involvement with the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR), where she regularly engages with members of the public through community outreach events designed to promote medical research.

Her service contributions to the research community includes active participation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)Professionals in Schools program organised by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). As member of this national volunteer program, she works closely with teachers in Victorian primary schools to encourage school student participation and interest in research.

Key research questions
  • Conduct a comprehensive, multi-faceted research program to better understand at all stages of KC, from early (subclinical) changes through to profound vision loss
  • Identify pathogenesis (cause) of KC
  • Develop a screening tool to help early detection of the condition which can be used by clinicians at both the local and global level;
  • Develop new therapies to avoid the need for corneal grafts in KC that represents the most common indication (~30% ) for corneal transplantation in Australia (Australian Corneal Graft Registry).

Current projects

Selected publications

My team

Key collaborators

Funding and support

Current projects

Australian Study of Keratoconus (ASK)

The main goal this study is to identify the risk factors, clinical features and genes involved in KC.

Uncovering genetic determinants affecting the underlying disease architecture of Keratoconus using high throughput gene expression analysis

This project involves undertaking high-throughput next-generation sequencing, termed RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to determine genome-wide expression changes in KC corneas compared to non-KC corneas and undertake pathway analysis to underpin the exact biological cause of KC.

Developing an objective screening tool to diagnose (particularly subclinical KC) and monitor progression of KC using artificial intelligence (AI)

Having access to the world’s largest KC dataset through the ASK & KIC, Dr Sahebjada planned to address the limitations in KC field by applying AI to corneal topography measurements suitable for efficiently diagnosing (include subclinical KC), staging and monitoring KC progression.

This will help clinicians to provide appropriate management strategies from the earliest stages of the disease, to minimize visual loss in affected individuals.

Keratoconus international consortium (KIC) to identify factors that contribute to KC causation, disease progression and response to treatment

KIC is a multi-pronged, multi-ethnic, and multi-centre international collaboration to enhance our understanding of keratoconus.

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