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Dr Livia Carvalho

Dr Carvalho obtained her PhD on the evolution of colour vision from University College London (UCL, UK) followed by two postdoctoral positions at UCL (UK) and Harvard Medical School (USA) that changed the direction of her research towards a more translational approach studying the biology, disease mechanisms and AAV-based gene therapy approaches for inherited visual disorders.

During her second postdoctoral position, she was awarded a Harvard Medical School Ophthalmology Research Fellowship followed by and ARC DECRA Fellowship, which enabled her to relocate to Australia and start her own research group at LEI. She is the head of the Retinal Genomics and Therapy Group and her team focuses on creating research platforms in gene and neuroprotection therapies for vision loss using AAV technologies, alongside understanding the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms behind inherited vision loss, cell death mechanisms, markers of disease and retinal development with a focus on cone photoreceptors.

Education/academic qualifications/roles responsibilities

  • 10/2017 – current: Senior Research Fellow, University of Western Australia/Lions Eye Institute, Perth, Australia
  • 09/2015 – 09/2017: ARC DECRA Fellow, University of Western Australia/Lions Eye Institute, Perth, Australia
  • 07/2013 – 08/2015: Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Schepens Eye Research Institute/ MEEI, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
  • 06/2008 – 05/2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, London, UK
  • 2005 – 2008: PhD Genetics, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London (UCL) London, UK
  • 2003 – 2004: MSc Neuroscience (Thesis Hons), University College London (UCL), London, UK
  • 1999 – 2003: BSc Biological Sciences, University of Brasilia (UnB), Brasilia, Brazil

Awards/Professional achievements

  • 2020: Executive committee member for the Australasian Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
  • 2019: Review committee board member for The Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australian (ORIA)
  • 2018: Bayer Travel Fellowship to attend and present at the XVIIIth International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration in Ireland, September 2018
  • 2018: Best Paper of the Year Award from the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society (AGCTS) for the best gene therapy research article (Carvalho et al 2018)
  • 2016: New Investigator of the Month Award, American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT)
  • 2015: Spotlight Award, ASGCT – Award to highlight the contribution of my current research into novel AAVs for gene therapy applications
  • 2015: Travel Grant to attend and present at the International ASGCT 2015 meeting
  • 2014: Travel Grant to attend and present at the International ASGCT 2014 meeting
  • 2014: Travel Fellowship, National Eye Institute (NEI) to attend and present at the XVIth International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration in California, USA.
  • 2007: Finalist for Young Geneticist of the Year Award, Promega, UK.
  • 2006: Travel Grant, Fondazione GB Bietti per Oftalmologia to attend and present at the ARVO Annual 2006 meeting
  • 2005: Best Poster at FASEB Biology and Chemistry of Vision 2005 meeting

Grants/scholarships/funding overview

  • 2021-2022: Developing novel gene therapy approaches for Usher syndrome. Channel 7 Telethon Trust Grant, CIA ($120,000)
  • 2020-2021: Developing a gene-independent treatment for inherited blindness. 2020 IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program, CIA (AUD$100,000)
  • 2020-2022: Investigating gene therapy approaches for cone-rod dystrophies. Direct private donation/benefactor, CIA (AUD$360,000)
  • 2020-2021: Optimising neuroprotection treatments for cone rescue. Direct private donation/benefactor, sole CI (AUD$160,000)
  • 2019-2020: Optimising treatment strategies for improved cone rescue in visual disorders. Department of Health WA Merit Awards 2019-20, CIA (AUD$75,000)
  • 2019: Dual AAV retinal gene therapy approach for Usher 1F treatment. Retina Australia Research Grant, CIA (AUD$40,000)
  • 2018-2020: Investigating the genetic and environmental factors involved in early onset myopia. Telethon – Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund, CIA (AUD$248,500)
  • 2018-2020: Stargardt macular degeneration: finding new genetic mutations and preparing patients for clinical trials. Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grants Program. Co-Investigator (AUD$512,400)
  • 2018-2019: Defining cone cell death mechanisms in inherited retinal degeneration. The Lindsay & Heather Payne Medical Research Charitable Foundation/Perpetual Impact Philanthropy Program, CIA (AUD$96,275)
  • 2018-2019: Establishing a centre of research excellence in juvenile macular disease. Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund, Associate Investigator (AUD$249,880)
  • 2017-2021: Development of gene therapy platform for Usher 1F. Genetics Cure Australia, direct donation, sole CI (AUD$18,000)
  • 2017-2021: Development of gene therapy platform for Usher 1F. Usher 1F Collaborative, direct donation, sole CI (AUD$62,000)
  • 2017-2020: Self-destructing CRISPR-constructs for targeted genome editing in the retina. NHMRC Project Grant – APP1123329, CIC (AUD$679,926)
  • 2017-2018: Voltage-gated potassium channels in inherited retinal dystrophy: disease mechanisms and treatment strategies. Department of Health WA Merit Awards 2016-17, CIA (AUD$20,000)
  • 2017-2018: Evaluating cone-specific neuroprotective approaches. UWA Research Collaborative Award, CIA (AUD$29,000)
  • 2016: Cone photoreceptor development and cell death mechanisms during retinal degeneration in mouse models of Achromatopsia. Retina Australia Research Grant, CIA (AUD$40,000)
  • 2014-2017: Cone photoreceptor migration and cell death mechanisms during retinal degeneration. ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award DE140100320, Fellowship (AUD$394,291)
  • 2014: Platform Technology Development for Gene Therapy Strategies in AMD. AMD Center of Excellence Fellowship Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, Sole CI (US$60,000)

Research Activity

During Dr Carvalho’s career she has made significant contributions in the field of vision research that covers our understanding of the visual system and how colour vision has evolved, to the development of novel treatments for debilitating vision loss conditions. Her passion lies in expanding our understanding of the fundamental biological processes behind retinal diseases leading to blindness and ultimately using this knowledge to improve and develop innovative treatment approaches for clinical use.

More specifically, and with the help of a dynamic group of young researchers, her research currently focusses on investigating neuroprotective treatments for cone photoreceptors, gene therapy approaches for Usher syndrome, understanding photoreceptors cell death mechanisms and the role of light in eye development. Dr Carvalho is also passionate about providing training opportunities for the next generation of vision researchers and working with patient charities to provide more information on current research directly to patients and their families.

Leading publications

  1. In Silico Reconstruction of the Viral Evolutionary Lineage Yields a Potent Gene Therapy Vector. 2015. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26235624/
  2. Gene therapy restores vision in rd1 mice after removal of a confounding mutation in Gpr179. 2015. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25613321/
  3. Long-term and age-dependent restoration of visual function in a mouse model of CNGB3-associated achromatopsia following gene therapy. 2011. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21576125/
  4. The molecular evolution of avian ultraviolet- and violet- sensitive visual pigments. 2007. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17556758/
  5. Visual pigments of the platypus: a novel route to mammalian colour vision. 2007. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17339011/

To read more publications from this researcher, go to https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.

Dr Livia Carvalho
Dr Livia Carvalho

Genetic Eye Disease, Gene Therapies & Macular Degeneration,

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