New vascular health lab at Aston creates a UK first

27 March 2009


Scientists at Aston University in Birmingham, UK are conducting research which uses the human eye as a 'window' to the vascular health of the human body.

The dedicated Vascular Imaging and Research Laboratory is the first of its kind in the UK. The Aston research team are looking at how the eyes can give vital clues to the health of patients, including signs of the risk factors associated with the onset and/or progression of diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, age-related macular degeneration and diabetes.

Dr Doina Gherghel, who co-ordinates the laboratory’s research team, explains: ‘We can learn a lot about a person’s health through examining their eyes. Our unique laboratory is dedicated to investigating the role of both systemic and ocular circulation in the onset and progression of ocular disease. We are also researching how the eyes can tell us about a patient’s risk factor for developing chronic vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes ; this is particularly important as all are diseases associated with ageing and by 2022, we expect that 27% of the EU population to be 60 years and over.’

The Vascular Research Laboratory will hold an Open day on Thursday, 2nd April 2009 from 9.30am to 4pm.The programme of lectures will include:

• Ageing and vascular health: Dr Doina Gherghel, Vascular Research Laboratory
• Diabetes and cardiovascular disease: an intimate relationship: Professor Clifford Bailey, Professor of Clinical Science, Aston University
• Age related macular degeneration: is it a vascular disease: Professor Jonathan Gibson, Professor of Ophthalmology, Aston University
• ‘Preserving Hearts and Saving Minds’: Dr Peter Bentham, Consultant in Working Age Dementia, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT).
Visitors will also be able to see demonstrations of the laboratory’s vascular imaging techniques, including flow mediated dilation, pulse-wave analysis, ocular blood flow measurements, retinal vascular reactivity and nailfold capillaroscopy. Members of the Vascular Research Team will be on hand to answer questions, show visitors around the facility and explain more about how they can become involved with the research team’s work.

The event is open to everyone, including general practitioners, businesses, charities, specialists and members of the public.

To find out more about the open day or register your attendance, please contact Dr Doina Gherghel at [email protected].


Notes to editors:
For further information about the Vascular Imaging and Research Laboratory, visit

The group’s main research interests are:
• Systemic and ocular circulation in health and disease
• Endothelial function (clinical and laboratory markers) and autonomic nervous system functionality in patients suffering from various systemic vascular  diseases with ocular consequences
• Ageing and ocular vascular health
• Circadian rhythms in ocular circulation
• Oxidative stress in ocular diseases.