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Dr Chris Layton – Director of Clinical Research

Professor Christopher Layton is a private Clinical Ophthalmologist and a national leader in innovative ophthalmology. He completed optometry at QUT, ophthalmology in Queensland, Oxford and London, subspecialty training in retinal disease at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and holds a PhD in diabetic retinopathy from Oxford University. Professor Layton is a Rhodes Scholar and founding director of the LVF Ophthalmology Research Centre. He is also Founder of Ocugene, a Queensland based biotech start-up which is commercialising his gene therapy technology targeting macular degeneration, uveitis and choroidal melanoma. Professor Layton is the listed inventor on multiple patents in the USA, the EU, Japan, Israel, Australia and Singapore.

Dr Chris Layton established the Layton Vision Foundation in 2016 with a mission in mind: One cure, one vision, once. For everyone

Working internationally and being immersed in the eye health industry from both a clinical and research position, Chris Layton understands the global vision crisis and how it affects every day lives. As it stands, 253 million people are living with vision impairment, yet 80% of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured. While there has been significant public health action, increased awareness and availability of eye care services, the rise in population growth and aging is contributing to the number of people suffering from vision impairment, which is said to triple by 2050.

Armed with this knowledge and experience, Chris felt it imperative to invest in high-level eye research in Queensland. He recognised how critical this kind of research was for improving clinical standards and specialised eye technologies, not just in Australia, but in developing countries and international aid.

Chris Layton’s work is now focused on developing new therapies through research and clinical trials at the LVF Ophthalmology Research Centre, which is part-funded by the Layton Vision Foundation. The team of specialists at the LVF Ophthalmology Research Centre aim to create single, curative interventions with long-term effects.

Through the Layton Vision Foundation, Chris Layton provides educational training and research fellowship opportunities for the next generation of doctors in academic Ophthalmology. The goal is to ensure young doctors are empowered to push the boundaries of modern medicine to develop high quality treatments that are accessible for all.

Dr. Sergei Kozlov – Laboratory Manager

Dr Sergei Koslov was awarded PhD from Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland in 2000.The focus of his study was human genetic disorder ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), the functional activities of ATM (A-T, mutated) protein kinase, ATM interacting partners and signalling pathways. The results of his research contributed significantly to seminal publications in top-ranking journals (Nature, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci USA, Nature Genetics) in the field of DNA damage and ATM signalling and provided the foundation for future development of molecular diagnostics for A-T. ​ During his entire research career, Sergei worked in the domain of human disease, specifically in the fields of hereditary ataxias, inflammation, breast and brain cancers, radiation therapy. He had been successfully involved in several research grants (ARC and NHMRC). In 2009, he was supported by the Australian Academy of Science “Scientific Visits to Europe” grant to work in GSI Helmholtzzentrum fur Schwerionenforschung GmbH, Darmstadt, a leading German experimental physics facility.

Through collaboration with Abteilung Biophysik, he applied, for the first time, heavy ion-beam microscopy to study ATM activation in DNA damage response (Kozlov et al, 2010). Dr Kozlov had a long-standing collaboration with Dr Mark Graham (CMRI, Sydney) in the field of quantitative mass spectrometry and phosphoprotein analysis.

He was the editor for a book entitled “ATM kinase” for the series “Methods in Molecular Biology” (Springer, 2017). As a Senior Medical Scientist (visiting) at the Medical Genetics laboratory (Pathology Queensland, RBWH) Dr Kozlov worked on a translational research project to develop a new strategy for mutation screening of genes relevant to renal diseases (Kozlov et al, Nephrology, 2012).

During his postdoctoral career working in QIMR and UQCCR, he has always supervised and mentored postgraduate students in collaborative projects (UQ, AIBN and GU), which resulted in publication of the first studies of stem cells in A-T. As an adjunct lecturer at the School of Medicine, UQ, and a Senior lecturer at the Griffith University Medical Research College, he participated in educational activities as an invited speaker.

In addition to student supervision, as a member of the Higher Degrees Committee (HDC) at QIMR for 9 years, Dr Kozlov reviewed and evaluated multiple Masters and PhD projects. Dr Kozlov completed a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education program at UQ (2016) where his major educational project for the course was focused on the development of innovative approaches to teaching of cell biology to international students. During his research career Dr Kozlov have engaged and successfully worked with many groups in diverse academic, clinical and inter-disciplinary environments. He joined Layton Vision Foundation in 2021 as a lab manager and research scientist to work on gene therapy projects.


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Dr. Jason Steel – Director of Scientific Research

Dr Jason Steel is an expert in Molecular Biology and Immunology having trained and worked at the National Institutes of Health, USA, in the Cancer Gene Therapy Laboratory of Professor John C. Morris and the Cytokine Immunology and Immunotherapy laboratory of Distinguished Investigator Professor Thomas A. Waldmann.  While at the NIH, Dr Steel was awarded the prestigious NIH Fellows Award for Research

Excellence (FARE) on 3 separate occasions for his work on gene therapy.

He has also led several gene therapy research teams including at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine before teaming up with Professor Chris Layton (Director of the LVF Ophthalmology Research Centre) to found Ocugene. In addition to his role at LVF, Dr Jason C. Steel is currently a Senior Lecturer and Biotechnology discipline lead at Central Queensland University, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine at the

University of Queensland and continues to work on targeted gene therapy using adenoviral and adeno-associated viruses as delivery vectors.

Dr. Brenda Castro – Scientific Fellow

Dr Castro is a pharmacist and obtained her Masters and Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), in Brazil. Brenda is passionate about discovering and improving therapies for eye diseases and has been working within this field for over 8 years. During her Masters and PhD she studied the application of nanoparticles, implants, and peptides for different ocular diseases, especially uveitis.

In 2018, Brenda spent a year of her Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine on a collaboration project developing and testing viral and nonviral nanoparticles for gene therapy. After completing her Ph.D., she moved to Australia in 2021 and started working at the Layton Vision Foundation as a postdoctoral Scientist.

Brenda’s work and collaborations have resulted in 10 publications in international journals and 3 patents.

Brenda Castro | Publons

Brendon Luke – Communications & Fundraising

Brendon is a marketing and communications professional with over a decade of experience working in the media industry with a strong passion for the Health Sector. He has personal experience from working as a phlebotomist with his Cert III in pathology and has worked within Clinic Centre’s, nursing homes & hospitals. He has nothing but admiration for the essential work undertaken to support the terminally ill and those in need of assistance and their loved ones.

With a Bachelor of Media Degree from the University of Macquarie he has become particularly passionate about research, fundraising and marketing in the non-for-profit health sector. Brendon is the head of our Marketing, Communications & Fundraising team at The Layton Foundation. He has come on board in early 2022 and is roaring to make a big impact within this space throughout the year.

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