• Room 03.062 - CEM

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr Chen is open to wide-range PhD applications, her fields of interest include: immunopathogenesis of age-related retinal degeneration, ocular drug delivery.


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Statement

Research topics

  • Retinal degenerative and vascular diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa.  
  •  Ocular drug delivery, in particular, topical drug delivery for retinal degenerative and angiogenic diseases.  


Research statement

My research has been focused on the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of retinal degenerative and angiogenic diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Although AMD, DR and RP are not classical inflammatory diseases, inflammation is known to play an important role in the initiation and progression of the diseases. We aim to understand how inflammation contributes to the aetiology of these diseases and to identify targets for therapeutic intervention.


Main research activities

1) Inflammation in DR: We are interested in how diabetes affects immune cells and why the immune response to diabetes-mediated retinal injury becomes detrimental in DR. During diabetes, abnormal glucose metabolism can affect the development and function of immune cells (Xu and Chen. Diabetic retinopathy and dysregulated innate immunity. Vision Research. 2017;139:39-46). We have found that prolonged high glucose environment sensitises macrophages to inflammatory stimuli, but reduces the defence function of macrophages (Pavlou, et al. Sustained high glucose exposure sensitizes macrophage responses to cytokine stimuli but reduces their phagocytic activity.BMC Immunology. 2018; Vol. 19:24).  

2) The role of Muller cell in retinal neurovascular unit: The blood-retinal barrier (BRB) is essential for retinal immune privilege. The functional integrity of BRB is maintained by the retinal neurovascular unit. Muller cell, the principal glia spanning almost the entire retina, is an important component of the neurovascular unit. We aim to understand the regulatory role of Muller cells in the neurovascular unit and BRB, and how the regulation is altered in diseases such as DR and AMD. Our group has recently established a mouse Muller cell line (Augustine, et al.  Characterization of a spontaneously immortalized murine Müller glial cell line QMMuC-1. IOVS 2018; Vol. 59, No. 3. pp. 1666-1674), which provides a valuable tool for studying the pathophysiology of Muller cells.    

3) Topical drug delivery for the treatment of retinal diseases: Due to the distinct anatomy of human eyes, it has been very difficult for topically applied drug to reach the posterior segment of the eyes. Teamed with collaborators in University of Birmingham, we have demonstrated that a cell penetrating peptide can aid drugs to the posterior segment of the eyes when applied topically (de Cogan, et al.  Topical Delivery of Anti-VEGF Drugs to the Ocular Posterior Segment Using Cell-Penetrating Peptides. IOVS 2017; Vol. 58, No. 5. pp. 2578-2590).


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Research Output

Open Access
  • 38 Downloads (Pure)

    Circulating Leukocyte Alterations and the Development/Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy in Type 1 Diabetic Patients – A Pilot Study

    Obasanmi, G., Lois, N., Armstrong, D., Lavery, N. J., Romero Hombrebueno, J. M., Lynch, A., Wright, D., Chen, M. & Xu, H., 30 Jan 2020, In : Current eye research. 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Attenuating Diabetic Vascular and Neuronal Defects by Targeting P2rx7

    Pavlou, S., Augustine, J., Cunning, R., Harkin, K., Stitt, A. W., Xu, H. & Chen, M., 29 Apr 2019, In : International journal of molecular sciences. 20, 9, 12 p., 2101.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 3 Citations (Scopus)
    116 Downloads (Pure)


    Dataset for Microplasma assisted synthesis of gold nanoparticle/graphene oxide nanocomposites and their potential application in SERS sensing

    Sun, D. (Owner), Tang, M. (Creator), Zhang, L. (Creator), Falzon, B. (Creator), Padmanaban, D. B. (Creator), Mariotti, D. (Creator), Maguire, P. (Creator), Xu, H. (Creator), Chen, M. (Creator) & Sun, D. (Data Manager), Queen's University Belfast, 04 Jul 2019




    2010 ISER International Travel Award

    Chen, Mei (Recipient), Jul 2010

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

    2012 Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator Award

    Chen, Mei (Recipient), 2012

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

    2015 ARVO International Travel Award

    Chen, Mei (Recipient), May 2015

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

    Travel award

    Chen, Mei (Recipient), 18 Oct 2013

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


    PhD examiner for University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

    Mei Chen (Examiner)


    Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

    ARVO (the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology) Annual Meeting 2018

    Mei Chen (Speaker)

    29 Apr 201803 May 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    External Reviewer of grant frpom University of Michigan (External organisation)

    Mei Chen (Reviewer)

    2018 → …

    Activity: Other activity typesOther

    Current Molecular Medicine (Journal)

    Mei Chen (Peer reviewer)

    2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    NI Science Festival

    Mei Chen (Participant)

    2018 → …

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in Festival/Exhibition


    Investigating the role of the Complement System in the Pathogenesis of Sub-Retinal Fibrosis in Neovascular Age Related Macular Degeneration

    Author: Little, K., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Chen, M. (Supervisor) & Xu, H. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

    Mechanisms of Microglia induced Retinal Degeneration

    Author: Du, X., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Chen, M. (Supervisor) & Xu, H. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

    The role of Interleukin-33 in Retinal degenerative diseases

    Author: Augustine, J., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Chen, M. (Supervisor) & Stitt, A. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy