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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Miss Alice Uwineza, MSc

Research Postgraduate (PhD) in the Department of Biosciences

Contact Miss Alice Uwineza (email at alice.uwineza@durham.ac.uk)

Research Interest

In 2012, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) reduced its recommended ionising radiation (IR) threshold of 2 Gy for acute exposure and 5 Gy for chronic exposure to a threshold to 0.5 Gy independent of the IR dose rate, to limit harmful effects. One of the most radiosensitive tissues in the human body is the eye lens, and cataract development has been associated with IR exposure. However, the ICRP acknowledged that our understanding of the biological processes causing cataracts at low-dose IR levels is at its early stages.

My doctoral research focuses on unravelling the underlying molecular mechanisms of IR-induced cataracts. We tackle this through three independent approaches:

  1. We are utilising in vivo models to study lens epithelium morphology via 3D-microscopy and in-house computational platforms. Our interest lies in how a range of radiation doses, dose rates, and incubation times affect the lens epithelium in genetically distinct model populations, and how these factors contribute to IR-induced cataractogenesis.
  2. We are studying the effects of IR on lens macromolecules in vitro. The eye lens is extremely enriched in cholesterol; we are investigating the influence of IR exposure on the formation of deleterious oxidised sterols using Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LCMS)-based lipidomics, in addition to the effect of antioxidants on these processes.
  3. Our work is involved in the emerging field of Advanced Glycation End Product (AGE) study. AGEs are formed via glycation of proteins and lipids, and we are examing the relationships between AGE formation and cataractogeneis, both in IR exposure scenarios and ageing models. 

I am eager to understand how all these IR-induced cataractogenic processes are linked to accelerated ageing, and I am interested in comparing oxidative damage in the eye lens versus the brain.

International Collaboration

  • Professor Detlef Balschun and An Schreurs, Laboratory for Biological Psychology, University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Professor Giancarlo Aldini, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Milan, Italy

Related Links

Selected Publications

Journal Article

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