Centres And GroupsMacular Pigment Research Group

Macular Pigment Research Group

The mission of the Macular Pigment Research Group is to study the role of eye nutrition for vision and prevention of blindness.

The Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) is based in Carriganore House, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland. This unique research facility offers state-of-the-art vision testing laboratories and infrastructure. In addition, we have a high quality biochemical laboratory, which allows us to conduct clinical trials to the highest possible standard.

The focus of our research concerns naturally occurring plant pigments known as carotenoids. Carotenoids play important roles throughout the body, but three particular carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin) are found at the back of the eye (the macula) where they are collectively known as macular pigment.

Contact information: 00353 51 845505     info@mprg.ie

The MPRG is a multi-disciplinary team comprising vision scientists, nutritionists, biochemists, statisticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists. The MPRG Principal Investigator, Dr. John Nolan, has been researching macular pigment and nutrition for over a decade. His significant contribution to this area of research is reflected in his Fulbright Scholarship and European Research Council and Howard Foundation Fellowships.

Professor Stephen Beatty, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Director of the MPRG, is one of the world’s leading eye specialists. The group has significantly contributed to science and medicine by publishing landmark research papers in high impact eye journals. The MPRG has published more scientific papers on this topic than any other research group in the world.

 

Dr. John Nolan PhD, Principal Investigator

Fulbright Scholar, Howard and European Research Council (ERC) Fellow
Dr. John Nolan is the Principal Investigator of the Macular Pigment Research Group. His research group studies the role of eye nutrition for vision and prevention of blindness. He has secured ~€4 million in research funding to date to support these studies, and he is currently managing the European Research Council (ERC)-funded project entitled Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST). Dr. Nolan has successfully supervised nine students to MSc, PhD and MD level qualifications, and is currently supervising five MSc/PhD students. He has presented at over 60 international scientific conferences and has published 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers on the topic (728 citations, H index 16). Dr. Nolan is Chair of the international Macular Carotenoids and AMD Conference (http://www.macularcarotenoids.org).

 

Professor Stephen Beatty, Director

L.R.C.P.I., L.R.C.S.I., M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O.(N.U.I.), M.M.Sc., F.R.C.Ophth, E.B.O.D., M.D.
Professor Stephen Beatty is the Director of the Macular Pigment Research Group. He graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1990, and trained as an ophthalmic surgeon in Dublin, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Geneva. He has been a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon with a special interest in retinal disease since 2001. Stephen Beatty has a strong track record in research, with over 100 peer-reviewed publications (2,332 citations, H index 22), and his research interest include cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Stephen Beatty was appointed Professor at Waterford Institute of Technology in 2010 and Adjunct Professor at Trinity College Dublin in 2011.

 

Sarah O'Regan, Research Assistant

Sarah O’Regan is the Research Assistant of the Macular Pigment Research Group. She is responsible for patient recruitment and support, budget management and the overall smooth running of the European Research Council-funded Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST) research project. Sarah has worked in an administrative and managerial role within the field of prevention of age-related blindness for four years.

From 2008 to 2011 she worked for a start-up company based in Waterford, Sightrisk Ltd., which provides age-related vision loss risk assessment software to optometrists. From 2009 to 2010 she was awarded a Higher Certificate in Small Business Enterprise through the competitive South East Enterprise Platform Programme (SEEPP) at the Waterford Institute of Technology. Through this programme she secured over €19,000 in funding for Sightrisk, and won first place in the Best Start-up Business category in the SEEPP Awards 2010.

 

Katie Meagher, Postgraduate Research Student

Katie Meagher is a postgraduate research student with the Macular Pigment Research Group. She completed a BSc (Honors) degree in Chemistry and Quality Management at the Waterford Institute of Technology and was recognised with the “Third Level Education Award: Highest Results in final year Chemistry” by the Institute of Chemistry, Dublin, Ireland in 2010. Katie has studied with the Macular Pigment Research Group as a serum carotenoid analyst for over a year and has presented her work at two international conferences. Katie was awarded joint-first place for the Howard Best Poster Award at the first ever Macular Carotenoids & AMD Conference 2011 for her poster entitled "Optimisation and Development for Quantification of Meso-zeaxanthin Method".

 

Jessica Dennison, Postgraduate Research Student

Jessica Dennison is a postgraduate research student with the Macular Pigment Research Group, currently working on the European Research Council-funded Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST). She completed her BA in Natural Sciences at Fordham University in New York City. She has done research at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary with Dr. Dan-Ning Hu on reactive oxygen species damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells, and protection by melatonin and other antioxidants. She presented her work at the Eastern College Science Conference in 2011. She is also an associate member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

 


Kwadwo Owusu Akuffo, O.D., Postgraduate Research Student

Kwadwo O. Akuffo is a postgraduate research student with the Macular Pigment Research Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. He is currently working on the project entitled “Enrichment of Macular Pigment and its Impact on Vision and Blindness: Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST)”

Kwadwo is an Optometrist by profession. Prior to starting his studies in Waterford, he worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant at the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana.  From 2005 to 2011, Kwadwo studied Doctor of Optometry at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, graduating with Distinction. During his studies at KNUST, he was on the Faculty of Biosciences Dean’s Honors List on three consecutive occasions for outstanding academic excellence. In the final year of his studies, being a team player with excellent leadership qualities, he was appointed as the President of the Dr. D.B. Kumah Research Group, Department of Optometry and Visual Science, KNUST. Furthermore, he served in various capacities during Optometric Outreaches whilst a student. Kwadwo's interests include counselling, vision screening and prevention of blindness.

Sakina Kashani, Postgraduate Research Student

Sakina Kashani is a postgraduate research student with the Macular Pigment Research Group. She began her studies in BSc. (Honours) Bioorganic and Pharmaceutical Sciences in DCU where she was awarded a Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholars Trust scholarship for the duration of her degree. She transferred to WIT for her final year. Sakina has done research with the Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) with Dr. Panagiotis Manesiotis, conducting an investigation into Molecular Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) for use with an anti-cancer drug. She has also been employed with MSD as an Instrumentation Specialist, and in Diageo as a QC and Micro Laboratory Analyst.

 


Kate Loskutova, Visiting Medical Research Student

Kate Loskutova is a visiting research student with the Macular Pigment Research Group. She is currently a student at the Moscow State Medical Stomatological University and is anticipated to graduate in 2014, with the Bachelor of General Medicine degree. Kate completed a three week observership at the Basel Augenspital, Switzerland, and a six week observership at the Ophthalmology Department in Glostrup Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. She has previously studied the link between antioxidants and age-related macular degeneration with the MPRG in 2010 and is a co-author of the poster entitled "High Serum Concentrations of Lutein are Associated with Elevated 8-oxo-dg in Serum of Normal Subjects" presented at the ARVO 2011 Conference.

 

Darragh Hayes, Scholarship Student

Darragh Hayes completed the Leaving Certificate (specialising in Maths, Biology and Physics, obtaining 465 points) in June 2012 at C.B.S., Carrick-on-Suir. He joined the MPRG following competitive application to the Michael Power Research Student Scholarship. Darragh is working part-time as Lab Assistant to Katie Meagher and Sakina Kashani, aiding them with biochemical research. Darragh is also currently attending Waterford Institute of Technology, studying Entertainment Systems.
 

Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials

CREST aims to assess the impact of enriched macular pigment with all three macular carotenoids on visual performance and blindness.

The CREST project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The main goal of the ERC is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe on the basis of scientific excellence through competitive funding. This funding will be used to test a novel research question on ways to uniquely enrich macular pigment in people with and without eye disease.

This ground-breaking study will advance understanding of the protective role of macular pigment for AMD, and potentially enhance visual performance in young normal people and in people with AMD. This study will also enable the research team to identify new ideas in this growing area of science.

CREST Normal is a registered clinical trial on the Current Controlled Trials Register. Click here for the CREST Normal overview.

CREST AMD is a registered clinical trial on the Current Controlled Trials Register. Click here for the CREST AMD overview.

 

Meso-Zeaxanthin Ocular Supplementation Trials

MOST is an initial investigation into the efficacy of supplementation with meso-zeaxanthin, the central macular carotenoid, for patients with, or at risk of developing, AMD. These studies are comparing different formulations of macular carotenoid supplements and their impact on macular pigment enrichment, visual performance, and disease progression.

 

Egg Xanthophyll Interventional Trial

Eggs for eyes

The objective of EXIT is the development of a macular carotenoid-enriched egg as an innovative supplement for vision and cognitive health.

 

Volunteers Required

We are currently recruiting volunteers for our research projects. We are now recruiting individuals from the general population aged 18 and over with no known eye disease. Also, we are looking for individuals who have been diagnosed with early stage AMD. The main inclusion criterion is that individuals who participate in our studies are not currently taking any eye-related dietary supplements (e.g. supplements which contain the macular carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin or meso-zeaxanthin). If you have any questions on your suitability to participate, please contact us.
 

There are currently no staff or student vacancies within the MPRG.

20th March 2013: John Nolan runs personal best in New York

Professor John Nolan ran the New York City half marathon on St. Patrick's Day, completing the 13.1 mile race with a personal best of 81 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sarah Sabour-Pickett graduates

The Macular Pigment Research Group is proud to announce that Sarah Sabour-Pickett has successfully passed her PhD Viva and celebrated her graduation recently, having completed her studies with the MPRG on Visual Performance and its Response to Intervention in Subjects with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. We wish her every success with her future career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


8th February 2013: Professor John Nolan: Contribution to Trinity Based Research Reflected in Affiliation

Professor John Nolan, Principal Investigator of Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) has recently been appointed Professor (Adjunct Assistant) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), in recognition and support of his ongoing academic collaboration with the TCD-based TILDA study.

TILDA is an acronym for ‘The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing’, designed to investigate the health, social and economic circumstances of the ageing Irish population, and includes 8,178 participants aged 50 years and over.

Professor Nolan is also a Fulbright Scholar, Howard Fellow and European Research Council (ERC) Fellow.

The Macular Pigment Research Group (http://www.mprg.ie), led by Professor Nolan, is based at the Vision Research Centre, Carriganore House at WIT’s West Campus and studies the role of nutrition in vision and in the prevention of blindness. To date, Professor Nolan has secured €5 million in research funding in support of these studies and he is currently managing several projects.

Professor Nolan has successfully supervised ten students to MSc, PhD and MD level, and is currently supervising six PhD candidates as part of ongoing projects at the MPRG. He has presented at over 70 international scientific conferences and has published 61 peer-reviewed scientific papers on his area of research (1,001 citations, H index 17). Professor Nolan is also Chair of the international Macular Carotenoids Conference, which is held at Downing College, Cambridge University, UK (http://www.macularcarotenoids.org).

Professor Nolan and his colleague, Professor Stephen Beatty (Director of MPRG and Institute of Eye Surgery, Whitfield Clinic; and an Adjunct Professor of TCD) have been collaborating with Professor Rose Anne Kenny (the Principal Investigator of the TILDA study) at TCD since 2007. This fruitful collaboration between WIT and TCD has already led to several landmark peer-reviewed publications.
Professor Nolan and Professor Beatty are leading the vision-related component of TILDA.

Professor Nolan said, “This is a great honour for me, my research group, and my family to be recognised in this way. The TILDA project has required a gigantic effort from all the researchers involved, and we are fascinated with the results it is already producing.

“This project is vital to inform healthcare policy makers, as the ageing population continues to represent an ever increasing proportion of the overall population. The increase in life expectancy presents many challenges to society, and only if we understand the socio-economic implications of an ageing society can we hope to accommodate the changing needs of Ireland.”


17th November 2012:

The Macular Pigment Research Group and Dr. John Nolan have been featured in an article published in the UK magazine Optometry Today. The article outlines the latest research and developments in the area of nutrition and eye health, and can be read here: The eye-health diet


9th October 2012:

Dr. John Nolan was interviewed today by Ian Noctor of WLR FM. The interview can be heard here on the Noctor 'Til Six podcast page (click on the second half of the Tuesday 9th October 2012 podcast).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


8th October 2012:

Today the MPRG met the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who was visiting the Waterford Institute of Technology. The Commissioner visited the Carriganore West Campus, where the MPRG's Vision Research Centre is based, and met some of the researchers here. Dr. John Nolan updated the Commissioner on the progress of the European Research Council-funded CREST Project, and the ongoing patient recruitment for the research studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured above is the Commissioner and the WIT Head of Research with the CREST Project team (left to right: MPRG Research Assistant Sarah O'Regan; Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn; Head of Research Dr. Willie Donnelly; MPRG PhD Student Kwadwo Akuffo; MPRG Principal Investigator Dr. John Nolan; MPRG PhD Student Jessica Dennison). Credit to Patrick Browne Photography.


4th October 2012:

Dr. John Nolan was interviewed today for an information programme on Insight Radio, the UK radio station of the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Listen to Dr. Nolan's interview with Leeanne Coyle here.

We are currently recruiting volunteers for the two CREST studies:

  • CREST Normal

  • CREST AMD

For CREST Normal we are looking for people who have no eye disease.

For CREST AMD we are looking for people who have been diagnosed with early stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

If you would like to volunteer for either of these studies or would like more information, please contact us on info@mprg.ie or call 00353 51 845505.

You may also find the following patient information leaflets helpful:

CREST Normal patient information leaflet

CREST AMD patient information leaflet

Introduction to the Macular Pigment Research Group


Official Opening of the MPRG's Vision Research Centre on the 23rd March 2012, by An Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny.

 


Functions of macular pigment by Professor Stephen Beatty
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tour of the Vision Research Centre
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Demonstration in the Biochemical Laboratory