Eye health in global disease outbreaks

Major implications world-wide

Professor Justine Smith has collaborated with researchers nationally and internationally on a range of viruses that affect the eyes - including Ebola Virus and Zika Virus.

Her life-changing work famously includes being among the team that first reported post-Ebola uveitis was associated with persistence of live virus inside the eye. In a study co-authored and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Professor Smith found that live Ebola virus was present in a patient’s eye fluid 10 weeks after the virus was no longer detectable in the patient’s blood.

This discovery has had major implications for the treatment of Ebola – the disease which caused fears of a worldwide epidemic – by showing that patients who survive it could still be carrying the virus after their symptoms have subsided.

Professor Smith is currently leading a $600,000 project to save the sight of hundreds of thousands of people suffering from the inflammatory eye disease uveitis.

Through her research, important discoveries on the mechanisms of infectious uveitis have been made, while her laboratory research and clinical trials have established the use of biologic drugs to reduce vision loss from non-infectious uveitis.

Professor Smith was recently named one of 30 ‘Superstars of STEMs’ – a project aiming to inspire girls towards a career in science by raising the profile of current world class female researchers and clinicians across Australia.

Read more about Professor Smith’s ground breaking work on the Flinders University website here.

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