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).
Funding and support
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.
Cao K, Verspoor K, Baird PN, Sahebjada S. Evaluating the performance of various machine learning algorithms to detect subclinical keratoconus. Translational Vision Science & Technology. 2020 April, Vol.9, 24.
Fan Q, Pozarickij A, Tan NYQ, et al. Genome-wide association meta-analysis of corneal curvature identifies novel loci and shared genetic influences across axial length and refractive error. CommsBio 2020 Mar 19;3(1):133.
Chan E, Baird PN, Vogrin S, Sundararajan V, Daniell MD, Sahebjada S. Economic impact of keratoconus using a health expenditure questionnaire: A patient perspective. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2020 Apr;48(3):287-300. Article chosen as Editor’s choice the month
Cao K, Sahebjada S, Richardson AJ, Baird PN. Do age-related macular degeneration genes show association with keratoconus? Eye Vis (Lond). 2019 Dec 1; 6:38.
McComish BJ, Sahebjada S, et al. Association of Genetic Variation with Keratoconus. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 Dec 19;138(2):174-81.
Milly S. Tedja; Annechien E. G. et al CREAM Consortium. IMI – Myopia Genetics Report. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019 Feb; 60(3):M89-M105.
Khong JJ, Burdon KP, Lu Y, Laurie K, Leonardos L, Baird PN, Sahebjada S, et al.. Pooled genome wide association detects association upstream of FCRL3 with Graves’ disease. BMC Genomics. 2016 Nov 18;17(1):939.
Sahebjada S, Amirul Islam FM, Wickremasinghe S, Daniell M, Baird PN. Assessment of Macular Parameter Changes in Patients with Keratoconus Using Optical Coherence Tomography. J Ophthalmol. 2015; 2015:245953.
Sahebjada S, Xie J, Chan E, Snibson G, Daniel M, Baird PN. Assessment of anterior segment parameters of keratoconus eyes in an Australian population. Optom Vis Sci. 2014 Jul;91(7):803-9.
Sahebjada S, Fenwick EK, Xie J, Snibson GR, Daniell MD, Baird PN. Impact of keratoconus in the better eye and the worse eye on vision-related quality of life. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Jan 21;55(1):412-6.
Sahebjada S, Schache M, Richardson AJ, Snibson G, Daniell M, Baird PN. Association of the hepatocyte growth factor gene with keratoconus in an Australian population. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 8;9(1): e84067.
Sahebjada S, Schache M, Richardson AJ, Snibson G, MacGregor S, Daniell M, Baird PN. Evaluating the association between keratoconus and the corneal thickness genes in an independent Australian population. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Dec 54(13):8224-8.
McBrien NA, Arumugam B, Gentle A, Chow A, Sahebjada S. The M4 muscarinic antagonist MT-3 inhibits myopia in chick: evidence for site of action. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2011 Sep;31(5):529-39.
Letters to the editor
Chan E, Yip H, Vogrin S, Sahebjada S. Factors affecting keratoconus progression and corneal collagen cross-linking. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2020 May;48(4):531-532.
Sahebjada S, Cantsileris S, Baird PN. Gene patents related to common diseases of the eye. Recent Pat DNA Gene Seq. 2011 Dec;5(3):185-93.
- Ms Ke Cao – PhD student
- Ms Minji Song – Honors Student, Dept. Surgery, The University of Melbourne
- Mr Grant Frisken (Cylite Pty Ltd, Australia)
- Mr Larry Kornhauser (Keratoconus Australia, Australia)
- Prof Karin Verspoor (Director of Health Technologies, Melbourne School of Engineering, UoM, Australia)
- Prof Gerard Sutton (NSW Tissue Banks, Sydney, Australia)
- Prof Chi Pui Calvin Pang (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
- Prof Sundaram Natarajan (Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai, India)
- Dr Faouzia Zemani-Fodil (Oran University of Science and Technology, Algeria)
- Dr Yves Kerdraon (Envision Eye Centre, Australia)
- Dr Shengwei Ren (Henan Eye Institute, China)
- Dr Nigel Barker (Warrens Eye care Centre, North America)
- Dr Grant Snibson (Eye Surgery Associates, Australia)
- Prof Kathryn Burdon (University of Tasmania, Australia)
- A/Prof Vishal Jhanji (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
- Dr Pravin Krishna (L V Prasad Eye Institute, India)
- Prof Rasik Vajpayee (Vision Eye Institute, Australia)
- Dr Marcelo Reyes Silva (San Jose hospital & Clinica Pasteur Ophthalmology Clinic, Chile)
- Dr Mehran Zarei (Farabi Eye Hospital, Iran)
- Dr Guofu Huang (Nanchang Eye Hospital, China)
Funding and support
Thank you to the following organisations for their support:
- NHMRC Ideas Grant APP1187763 (CIB)
- Impact Perpetual Philanthropic
- Keratoconus Australia
- Angior Family Foundation
- Lions Eye Foundation Fellowship
- William Angliss Charitable Fund
- Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia New Investigator Grant,
- UoM Early Career Researcher Grant
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