After an undergraduate degree in Medical Science at Queensland University of Technology, Natalie pursued an Honours research project to develop a transplantable layer of cells grown upon a silk membrane with the aim of restoring sight to patients with corneal endothelial dystrophy. After two years working in clinical trials and feto-maternal research, she returned to her first love (ophthalmic research) to earn her PhD enrolled through the University of Queensland’s School of Medicine, with her lab work carried out at the Queensland Eye Institute. Submitted for examination in January 2018, her PhD project investigated compounds from raw silk in a range of therapeutic applications, including as a biomaterial for restoring a key cell population lost due to the common blinding condition, age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Natalie McKirdy