Mr Alastair Denniston MA MRCP FRCOphth PhD


Hon Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology


Contact details

Ophthalmology Department - University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham
Mindelsohn Way
B15 2WB


Alastair Denniston is Hon Senior Lecturer, College of Medical and Dental Sciences and Consultant Ophthalmologist (Uveitis and Medical Retina) at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Alastair’s specialist interest within ophthalmology is ocular immunity. He was awarded an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship in 2006, and completed his PhD in Dendritic Cell Regulation in the Ocular Microenvironment in 2009. He regularly publishes research papers in scientific journals as well as reviews and book chapters, but is best known for writing the Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology with Professor Philip Murray (Professor of Ophthalmology and Head of the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology, University of Birmingham).   

Alastair is keen to promote awareness of ophthalmic research and has been actively involved with the MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Prize (runner-up in 2009) and the British Science Festival.

Alastair’s motivation, whether in research or in the clinic, is to improve our care of patients with potentially blinding ocular disease.


  • FRCOphth, Royal College of Ophthalmologists 2010
  • PhD, University of Birmingham, 2010
  • MRCOphth, Royal College of Ophthalmologists, 2003
  • MRCP, Royal College of Physicians, 2000
  • MA, University of Cambridge 2000     
  • MB BChir, University of Cambridge 1997  
  • BA Medical Sciences Tripos, University of Cambridge 1995


Alastair Denniston graduated as Senior Whitby Scholar from Downing College, Cambridge in 1995 with a BA in Medical Sciences. He undertook general medical training first in Cambridge and then Birmingham gaining Membership of the Royal College of Physicians in 2000. He then trained in Ophthalmology becoming Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 2005, before being awarded an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship in 2006. His PhD in Dendritic Cell Regulation in the Ocular Microenvironment was completed in 2009, work from which has been recognised internationally (Second Prize in the Cora VerHagen Award for Ocular Immunology presented at the Association for Research into Vision and Ophthalmology 2009). He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in 2010, and was appointed Hon Senior Lecturer (College of Medical and Dental Sciences) and Consultant Ophthalmologist (University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust) from 2012.


Teaching Programmes 

Postgraduate supervision

Alastair is interested in co-supervising doctoral research students in the areas of human intraocular inflammation and immunity.

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Alastair on the contact details above, or the Head of the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology, Professor Murray on .

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.    



Ocular immunology, Dendritic cells, Aqueous humour, Clinical Trials


The goal of Alastair’s research is directed to both uncovering fundamental mechanisms of ocular inflammation but also to translate these discoveries into novel therapies that will be of real benefit to patients. Specifically he has investigated the immunosuppressive effects of human aqueous humour on cellular function, and how this is altered in intraocular inflammation, proposing that these early events in the adaptive immune response may explain both the vulnerability of some patients to uveitis, and their natural history - why some resolve quickly and others develop a chronic course.

Other activities

  • Reviewer for the BMA Medical Books Competition
  • Peer reviewer for a range of ophthalmic and medical journals


Denniston A.K., Tomlins P., Williams G.P., Kottoor S, Khan I.J., Oswal K., Salmon M., Wallace G.R., Rauz S., Murray P.I., Curnow S.J. Aqueous humor suppression of dendritic cell function helps maintain immune regulation in the eye during human uveitis Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2012;53(2):888-96.

Hamada S, Khan I, Denniston A.K., Rauz S. Childhood Blepharokeratoconjunctivitis: Characterising a Severe Phenotype in White Adolescents. Br J Ophthalmol 2012 (In Press)

Williams G.P., Denniston A.K.O., Oswal K.S., Tomlins  P.J., Barry R.J., Rauz S.,Curnow S.J. The dominant human conjunctival epithelial CD8ab+ T cell population is maintained with age but the number of CD4+ T cells increases.   Age (Dordr). 2011 (In Press)

Sreekantham S., Denniston A.K.(Joint first author), Murray P.I. Survey of expert practice and perceptions of the supporting clinical evidence for the management of uveitis-related cataract and cystoid macular oedema  Ocular Immunology and Inflammation 2011; 19(5):353-7

Trivedi D., Denniston A.K., Murray P.I. Safety profile of anterior chamber paracentesis performed at the slit lamp. Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 2011 (In Press)

Denniston A.K., Kottoor S.H., Khan I., Oswal K., Williams G.P., Abbott J., Wallace G.R., Salmon M., Rauz S., Murray P.I., and Curnow S.J. Endogenous cortisol and TGF-beta in human aqueous humour contribute to ocular immune privilege by regulating dendritic cell function. Journal of Immunology 2011;186(1):305-11.

Mandal N., Harborne P., Salmon N., Holder R., Denniston A.K., Murray P.I. Comparison of two ophthalmoscopes for direct ophthalmoscopy. Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 2010:39(1);30-36

Curnow S.J., Fariclough M.E., Schmutz C., Kissane S., Denniston A.K., Nash K., Buckley C.D., Lord J. and Salmon M. Distinct types of fibrocyte differentiate from mononuclear cells in the presence and absence of serum. PLOS One 2010; 5(3):e9730

Aralikatti A.M.V., Mitra A., Denniston A.K., Haque M.S., Ewer A.K., Butler L. Is ethnicity a risk factor for severe retinopathy of prematurity? Arch Dis Child 2010; 95(3):F174-6

Nessim M., Denniston A.K., Nolan W., Holder R., Shah P. ReGAE 8: Is There A Relationship Between Social Deprivation And Acute Primary Angle Closure? Br J Ophthalmol 2010;94(10):1304-6.

Sood V,. Rahman R, Denniston A.K. Phacoemulsification and foldable intraocular lens implant combined with 23 gauge transconjunctival sutureless vitrectomy J Cataract Refract Surg 2009; 35(8): 1380-4.

Simon D., Denniston A.K., Tomlins P.J., Wallace G.R., Rauz S., Salmon M., Murray P.I., Curnow S.J. Soluble gp130, an antagonist of IL-6 trans-signalling, is elevated in uveitis aqueous humour Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2008; 49: 3988-91

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