Professor Nicola Ragge


Baillie Gifford Professor of Developmental Eye Genetics

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Nicola Ragge


I am the Baillie Gifford Professor of Developmental Genetics at Oxford Brookes University. I lead a group investigating the Genetic Basis of Eye and Brain Anomalies and I am also a Consultant Clinical Geneticist, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. 

I have a specialist interest in translational eye genetics, developing therapeutic strategies, and in a holistic approach for the diagnosis and management of individuals with developmental eye anomalies. 

I have pioneered new strategies for rapid genetic diagnostic testing for children with developmental eye anomalies, now translated into national testing for Genomics England. I helped to establish a national centre for Eye Genomics regionally for Oxford / West Midlands / Wessex. 

My career has spanned several areas of clinical medicine and scientific disciplines.  I practised as an NHS consultant, first in Ophthalmology and for the past 10 years have been a consultant Genetisist, which gives me an unusually privileged insight into both surgery and medicine. I lead a national specialist practice in eye genetics. 

I have also been fortunate to be able to pursue academic research in several areas. My main field of research for the past 15 years is developmental eye genetics, identifying the genes and pathways that switch on human eye development during development.  However, I have also researched tumour suppressor gene conditions (neurofibromatosis types 1 and 2), functional magnetic resonance imaging, 3-D computerized spatial representation for visually impaired individuals, and tumour immunobiology.


Awards and Academic Distinctions:

  • National Silver Clinical Excellence Award, for clinical work in genetics                           
  • Senior Surgical Scientist Award (Academy of Medical Sciences/Health Foundation)
  • Fellowship Royal College of Physicians, for Services to Medicine
  • Fellowship Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, for Services to Paediatrics             
  • VISTA Fellowship USA award, Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, USA
  • Harcourt Medal (Royal College of Ophthalmologists)                                                                     
  • Keeler Scholarship (Royal College of Ophthalmologists)


In my major area of research, I have built a new research field dedicated towards understanding the genes that switch on human eye development.  I was awarded the prestigious Senior Surgical Scientist Award from the Academy of Medical Sciences/Health Foundation, worth over £1 million, to launch my research programme in eye development genetics in Oxford in 2003. This award enabled me to work as a Consultant Ophthalmologist in the Adnexal Service at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and as a Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, whilst building my laboratory research in Oxford University (3-centre working, every week). After this I completed a fast track training in clinical Genetics, became accredited in both Genetics and Ophthalmic Genetics (the only person in the UK), in addition to my accreditation in Ophthalmology.

Research impact

I engaged donors from charities (e.g. VICTA – Visually Impaired Children Taking Action, MACS - Microphthalmia Anophthalmia Coloboma Support) and other funders (e.g. Baillie Gifford) in addition to traditional funding routes (e.g. Academy of Medical Sciences/Health Foundation) to secure over £3.5 million funding for research. I inspired others within my team and collaborations, nationally and internationally, to pursue related research. This has advanced the area from one in which no genes were known to one where over 200 different genetic conditions are now identified.  This has meant that individuals and their families can gain diagnoses, receive accurate genetic counseling, and appropriate treatment. The work has been translated into clinical genetics practice so that I have helped to design a new customized eye array, and a national panel of genes that will be used by Genomics England in NHS gene testing for individuals with eye anomalies.

I was recently featured in The Science Show (interviewed by Professor Robyn Williams), Australian Broadcasting Company on Top Women on the Good News, Nov 10, 2018


Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • CRN funding for Nicky Ragge group (01/10/2023 - 31/03/2024), funded by: National Institute for Health Research, funding amount received by Brookes: £40,000


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