Summer Student Ze Lum
Supervised by Dr Christopher Rowlands at Imperial College London, Ze Lum is building a test system that mimics a real human eye, to automatically take full diagnostic maps of the retina, to help replace experiments on cats and monkeys.
Blindness can have a huge impact on a person’s life. Unfortunately, the study of retinal disease is limited by the difficulty of safely taking a tissue sample. Sadly, studies of diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, retinoblastoma and macular degeneration often involve experiments on animals including cats and monkeys.
In his summer research project, Ze built a test system that mimics a real human eye and then created a process to take a ‘virtual’ tissue sample of the retina using laser light scattering. His device could be incorporated into a larger system that can take full diagnostic maps of the retina, which could give the same information as a tissue section but without causing eye damage in the process. This could help eliminate the use of animals in research as well as improving quality of care for many people with debilitating diseases.
This research project piques a unique interest in the field of technology and retina research. Development of the focus tracking system allowed me to utilise and expand my programming and engineering skills. Most importantly, helping to develop this system enables a replacement method for retina research that does not involve harming or killing animals for research. This gives me personal motivation to provide an animal free replacement in the field of retina research across the world.