Julie Sanderson


  • 1.51 Chemistry

Personal profile


PhD Positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in PHA. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Julie Sanderson obtained her BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology, University of Leeds, 1986 and her PhD in ocular physiology from the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, 1991. She then held research associate and senior demonstrator positions in the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, before being appointed to a post as a Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of East Anglia in 2004.  She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Cell Biology in the School of Pharmacy.

Research interests include: ocular cell biology, pharmacology and pathophysiology including purinoceptor signalling in the retina (neural retina and the retinal pigment epithelium), molecular mechanisms underlying visual field loss in glaucoma and mechanisms of cataract formation. A central theme is calcium cell signalling.

Selected Publications

Human organotypic retinal cultures (HORCs) as a chronic experimental model for investigation of retinal ganglion cell degeneration.
Osborne, A., Hopes, M., Wright, P., Broadway, D. C., Sanderson, J.
Experimental Eye Research, 2016, 143, pp. 28-38
DOI:  10.1016/j.exer.2015.09.012

Hydrostatic Pressure does not cause detectable changes to Survival of Human Retinal Ganglion.
Osborne, A., Aldarwesh, A., Rhodes, J. D., Broadway, D. C., Everitt, C., Sanderson.
J.PLoS One, 2015. 10(1): e0115591.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115591
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115591

Purines in the eye : recent evidence for the physiological and pathological role of purines in the RPE, retinal neurons, astrocytes, Müller cells, lens, trabecular meshwork, cornea and lacrimal gland.
Sanderson, J., Dartt, D., Trinkaus-Randall, V., Pintor, J., Civan, M., Delamere, N., Fletcher, E., Salt, T., Grosche, A., Mitchell, C.
Experimental Eye Research, 2014, 127.pp. 270-279.
DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2014.08.009

P2X7 receptor activation mediates retinal ganglion cell death in a human retina model of ischemic neurodegeneration.
Niyadurupola, N., Sidaway, P., Ma, N., Sanderson, J., Broadway, D., Rhodes, J.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2013, 54. pp. 2163-2170.
DOI: 10.1167/iovs.12-10968

The development of human organotypic retinal cultures (HORCs) to study retinal neurodegeneration
Niyadurupola N, Sidaway P, Osborne A, Broadway DC, Sanderson J.
Br. J. Ophthalmol. 2011, 95, 720-726.

Key Research Interests

Role of calpain in cataract formation
Collaborators: Dr Michael Wormstone, School of Biological Sciences, UEA.

In cortical cataract, calcium increases I the lens cells which leads to activation of downstream calcium-mediated processes.  This project uses a model of calcium-induced opacification in the human lens as a model of cortical cataract to investigate the potential anti-cataract activity of inhibitors targeting the calcium-activated protease calpain.

Funding: Calpain Therapeutics


Retinal Cell Signalling Mechanisms underlying visual loss in Glaucoma.
Collaborators: Mr David Broadway Consultant Ophthalmologist, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.

This project aims to look at mechanisms causing cell death in retinal ganglion cells as occurs in glaucoma. Glaucoma is a debilitating disease, which leads ultimately to blindness. Vision is lost due to death of retinal ganglion cells. In this project we are investigating mechanisms mediating neuronal cell death and potential neuroprotective strategies.  Research primarily utilises our recently developed human retina explant culture model (Human Retinal Organotypic Cultures; HORCs).  We are investigating the triggering mechanisms for glaucomatous neurodegeneration, looking specifically at the effects of pressure, mechanical strain and ischaemia on RGC death.   We are also investigating downstream mechanisms, with a specific interest in signalling via ATP, investigating the mechanisms whereby stress-induced release of ATP from retinal cells contributes to neuronal cell death.  We are particularly interested in the P2X7 receptor, which is a known mediator of neuronal cell death.

Current research personnel: Dr Phillip Wright, Matthew Felgate, Sofia Habib.

Funding:  Humane Research Trust, NNUH Glaucoma Research Fund.


Development of an in vitro model for assessment of drug toxicity in the human retina.
Collaborators: Dr Guy Healing and Dr Janet Kelsall, AstraZeneca UK.

This project aims to assess our human organotypic retinal culture (HORC) model, to determine its potential as a model for determining retinal toxicity.  Retinal toxicity is a significant reason for failure of new drugs to progress to clinical studies.  The development of an in vitro model that uses human tissue could therefore be of great benefit.

Current research personnel: Dr Phillip Wright

Funding: AstraZeneca UK.


Research Funding

  • The Humane Research Trust
  • The Norwich Glaucoma Research Fund
  • AstraZeneca UK
  • Calpain Therapeutics


Research Group or Lab Membership

Current Members  

Philip Wright

Phillip Wright
Post Doctoral Scientist

Sofia Habib
Clinical Fellow

Matt Felgate

Matt Felgate
PhD student

Recent past members

Andy Osborne
Post Doctoral Scientist

Dr Marina Hopes
Clinical Fellow

Dr Ning Ma
PhD student

Amal Al Darwesh

Amal Al Darwesh


Areas of Expertise

The eye; ocular pharmacology and toxicology; ocular disease modelling using human tissue; molecular mechanisms of glaucoma; RPE cell signalling; the lens and cataract; diet and cataract.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being