"I always wanted to be a scientist" - Fight for Sight PhD student shares her story

19 August 22

written by:

Eva Astreinidou

(more articles)

Fight for sight researcher Aikaterini Kalargyrou smiles to the camera in her lab.

Dr Aikaterini Kalargyrou talks about the difference supporters like you have had on her career so far, and how she hopes to play her part in the future of eye research.

I always wanted to be a scientist. My academic journey in neuroscience began in Greece, where I completed my Bachelor’s
and Master’s degrees with distinction.

I was then offered a prestigious scholarship to come to the UK and undertake my doctorate studies at University College London (UCL).

This great opportunity to fulfil my dream was only possible because of Fight for Sight’s funding.

Under the supervision of Professor Rachael Pearson, I have been working on cell replacement strategies that aim to repair retinal degeneration.

Working with leading experts in ocular therapies, I focused on cell-to-cell interactions during photoreceptor transplantations, and I was able to identify how donor-graft photoreceptors interact with the host retina.

My doctorate degree expanded my knowledge in ocular therapies and gave me the foundation I needed to start my career.

Fight for Sight funding not only facilitated my studies, but it helped me build a network with other scientists across the globe, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

One of the most memorable moments of this journey, was presenting my scientific results to the family that funded my research through a generous donation to Fight for Sight.

I was quite nervous, but we had such a fruitful discussion, and at the end I felt even more motivated and proud.

I’m now a Postdoctoral Researcher at King’s College London, in the Centre for Gene Therapy and Regenerative

I’m advancing my knowledge from cell-to-cell interactions to cell-to-matrix interactions, focusing on the
tissue microenvironment that is highly affected during retina degeneration.

Professor Rachael Pearson and Professor Robin Ali not only added to my expertise but gave me the opportunity
to collaborate with Imperial College London and become a member of a multidisciplinary network of biologists and engineers working together to develop new therapeutic strategies for retina disfunction.

My ultimate goal is to set up my own lab and study the neuroimmune interactions during retinal degeneration, and potentially use the inflammatory cells to support neuronal cells’ survival and function during disease.

I’m now organising a fundraising fun run for Fight for Sight to express my gratitude and bring awareness to the public.

Please continue supporting Fight for Sight and graduate students. We have a long way to go but the journey is very

By increasing our knowledge we will be able to develop more targeted therapies and transform the daily lives of people living with sight loss.