Professor Philip Murray MBBS, DO(RCS), PhD, FRCP, FRCS, FRCOphth

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Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Professor of Ophthalmology

Contact details

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Phil Murray is Professor of Ophthalmology. Until recently he was Clinical Lead, Graduate School, College of Medical and Dental Sciences and a previous member of the University Senate.

His main clinical and research interests are in the field of intraocular inflammation (uveitis), in particular immune mechanisms in the ocular microenvironment.

Phil has published almost 170 research papers plus numerous book chapters on uveitis. He has also co-authored four textbooks.

He has received grants from The Medical Research Council, The Wellcome Trust, The National Institute for Health Research and Fight for Sight, and is frequently invited to speak at and Chair National and International conferences on uveitis. He is a referee for a number of journals and grant giving bodies and Section Editor, British Journal of Ophthalmology, Editorial Board Member and Reviewing Editor of Ocular Immunology and Inflammation and BMC Ophthalmology.

He is Secretary of the prestigious International Uveitis Study Group (a select group of about 100 international uveitis experts) and was the Royal College of Ophthalmologists Duke-Elder Lecturer in 2013.

Phil sits on numerous national committees (Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Royal College of Physicians) and is an adviser to a number of patient groups and charities.


  • FRCP – The Royal College of Physicians 2005
  • FRCOphth – The Royal College of Ophthalmologists 1993
  • PhD – University of Amsterdam 1990
  • FRCS - The Royal College of Surgeons of England 1985
  • DO(RCS) – Royal College of Surgeons of England 1982
  • MRCS LRCP - (Conjoint) 1978
  • MBBS - St. George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London 1978


Phil Murray qualified in Medicine at St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London in 1978. After House Jobs and a Senior House Officer post in Neurosurgery, he started his ophthalmology career in Croydon then Southampton. Following this he undertook laboratory research into intraocular inflammation (uveitis) at the Institute of Ophthalmology, London. Most of his ophthalmological training was then undertaken at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. In 1988 he spent one year as Guest Researcher at the Department of Ophthalmo-Immunology in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In January 1990 he was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of Birmingham, and after a short period as Reader he took up the position of Professor of Ophthalmology in 1997. He obtained his PhD in 1990 on ‘Immunological Aspects of Intraocular Inflammation’. His main interests revolve around why the eye cannot control inflammation in patients with uveitis and research is aimed at answering the following questions:

  • Why does intraocular tolerance fail in uveitis?
  • What immune mechanisms initiate and drive the inflammatory response?
  • What can one do about it?

Having a large patient base, including cohorts of patients with rare diseases, serves as the ideal source for translational research. He also undertakes commercial Pharmaceutical trials on novel therapies for uveitis and was closely involved in obtaining funding from National Commissioning for a National Centre of Excellence for Behçet’s Syndrome at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre (BMEC), one of only 3 centres in England. This has lead to the development of multidisciplinary clinics and a close involvement with Rheumatology.

His clinical base is at BMEC, City Hospital, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and undertakes 2 Regional/Supraregional referral Uveitis clinics and one operating session per week specialising in complex cataract surgery in patients with uveitis. He is passionate about the teaching and training of junior doctors and until very recently was the Clinical Lead for the Graduate School of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, with overall responsibility for clinicians undertaking MD and PhD degrees. He is a member of the Clinical Academic Training Operations Group at the Medical School.

He has published nearly 170 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on uveitis, numerous book chapters and co-authored 4 textbooks including the best selling ‘Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology’. He has a strong interest in undergraduate teaching and this is reflected in being the MBChB ophthalmology lead.

He is an adviser to three patient groups/charities and helped set up a local Patient Involvement Group in Uveitis (PINGU) that meets 3-4 time/year. He is the organiser of the acclaimed Oculus Part 2 FRCOphth revision course.

He is a Life Member of Brentford FC Supporters Club and plays baritone sax in Out Of The Blue Big Band and The Soul Providers.


Medicine and Surgery MBChB:

  • Member Year 4 Management Group
  • Lead for undergraduate ophthalmology teaching
  • 2nd Year - large group lectures
  • 3rd Year - large group lectures
  • 4th Year - small group teaching, clinical skills teaching, clinical teaching (clinic/theatre), SSMs, Elective Home Supervisor, Conference Poster judge, standard set MCQs, OSCE reviewer and examiner, Senior Academy Tutor, produce eLearning materials for Canvas 
  • 5th Year – SSMs, OSCE reviewer
  • Personal Mentor – PM53 group

Postgraduate supervision

  • PhD Supervisor – clinicians, basic scientists
  • MD Supervisor – clinicians
  • Academic Supervisor – Academic Trainees (NIHR Clinical Lecturer, University Clinical Lecturer, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow)
  • Educational Supervisor – West Midlands’ Ophthalmology Trainees
  • Clinical Supervisor – West Midlands’ Ophthalmology Trainees

If you are interesting in studying in this subject area please contact Phil on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

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


Uveitis comprises a group of potentially blinding diseases of mainly the young and working aged population. Some cases are caused by an infection, in others it is part of a systemic disease but in many patients we never find a cause. When vision is threatened systemic treatment in the form of corticosteroids, immunosuppressants and biological agents are required.

The eye is an immunologically privileged site. Recent developments are beginning to suggest specific molecular mechanisms for this process. Nevertheless, uveitis is a clear challenge to this tolerant paradigm. Research is aimed at trying to answer why the mechanisms of immune privilege in the eye are circumvented or overwhelmed leading to inflammation inside the eye (uveitis). What factors are then driving the inflammatory response? If these mechanisms can be elucidated then specific targeted novel treatments can be developed.

Our large cohort of uveitis patients, including having a National Centre for Behçet’s Disease, allows for translational-based studies. The ability to take blood and aqueous humour samples, and to compare them with healthy individuals, has led us to have a greater understanding of the cells and cytokines inside the inflamed eye.

Our work has been supported by grant funding from the Medical Research Council, The Wellcome Trust, the National Institute for Health Research and Fight for Sight.


We are studying the use of a new way of examining peripheral blood mononuclear cells using flow cytometry known as Supercell technology. Supercell randomly allocates multiple single cells into a “supercell” and calculates a single score for all parameters that is used to compare between different uveitis patient groups. Then applying novel machine learning algorithms we are able to accurately predict patients with different types of uveitis on the basis of different cell surface markers.

Our future work aims to investigate the relationship between immune responses, host genotype and gut microbiome profile that may contribute to the clinical manifestations and disease course in patients with Behçet’s disease.

We are also using metabolomics in aiding the diagnosis and prognosis of different types of uveitis.

In the past our studies of uveitis addressed the roles of a number of potentially harmful immune cell subsets (T cells). This has also enabled us to identify specific patterns of cytokines inside the inflamed eye. We also shown that the microenvironment in the eye suppresses the function of a key population of immune cells (dendritic cells) involved in the initiation of immune responses, and that the microenvironment continues to suppress the function of dendritic cells despite the on-going active inflammation in individuals with uveitis.

We are also examining the genetic basis of ocular disease in particular the concept that condition such as Behçet’s Disease and idiopathic intermediate uveitis are autoinflammatory rather than autoimmune in nature. Analysis of new polymorphisms in the IL-10 gene has shown that those associated with Behçet’s or inflammation at the back of the eye, are not linked to disease solely at the front of the eye suggesting a different mechanism.


We are actively involved in undertaking Pharmaceutical clinical trials for new therapies for uveitis. At present this involves looking at a long acting steroid pellet that is injected into the eye and we are about to start a clinical trial funded by the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research comparing two biological drugs for the treatment of Behçet’s Disease.

We are looking at novel imaging techniques using Optical Coherence Tomography as a validated methodology to accurately quantify inflammation inside the eye that could be used in the clinic and in drug trials.

Our work has recently expanded in to more qualitative research as we are exploring the quality of life issues that uveitis patients who have poor central vision related to their inflammation (cystoid macular oedema) experience. This would lead to the development of a Core Outcome Set of Patient Report Outcomes that could be added to the outcomes already measured in clinical trials of new drugs.

We recently published a large retrospective study of the outcome of cataract surgery in patients with uveitis. Although cataract surgery is highly successful in the elderly, in patients with uveitis the outcome is not as good. We are investigating the results of our cataract surgery in uveitis and are finding that with the appropriate pre-and post-operative management uveitis patients see very well.

Other activities

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
Member of:

  • Research and Development Committee
  • Medical Education Committee
  • Undergraduate Teaching Group

West Midlands Region

  • Board member of the School of Ophthalmology HEEWM (Health Education England West Midlands)
  • Past President, Midland Ophthalmological Society

Royal College of Ophthalmologists
Member of:

  • International Medical Graduates sub-committee

Past member of:

  • Education Committee (in charge of Undergraduate Ophthalmology and Foundation Curriculum)
  • Examinations Committee
  • Equivalence of Training sub-committee
  • eLearning sub-committee
  • Examiner for Part 2 FRCOphth, Diploma

Royal College of Physicians

  • Member, Specialty Advisory Committee for Medical Ophthalmology
  • Past Chairman, Specialty Training Committee for Medical Ophthalmology


  • Past Member of the Academy of the Medical Royal Colleges Foundation Programme Committee
  • Member of Moorfields Eye Hospital Special Trustees Grant Allocation Panel
  • Past Member of Fight for Sight Grant Allocation Panel
  • Previous Secretary then Vice-President of the Section of Ophthalmology of the Royal Society of Medicine.
  • Past Editor, Eye News


  • Honorary Secretary of the International Uveitis Study Group
  • External Examiner, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland


  • ‘The Behçet Syndrome Society’
  • ‘The Birdshot Uveitis Society’
  • ‘Olivia’s Vision’


Tallouzi MO, Moore DJ, Calvert M, Murray PI, Bucknall N and Denniston AK (2016) The effectiveness of pharmacological agents for the treatment of uveitic macular oedema (UMO): a systematic review protocol. Syst Rev 5(1):29

Zarranz-Ventura J, Keane PA, Sim DA, Llorens V, Tufail A, Sadda SR, Dick AD, Lee RW, Pavesio C, Denniston AK, Adan A and EQUATOR Study Group (2016) Evaluation of Objective Vitritis Grading Method Using Optical Coherence Tomography: Influence of Phakic Status and Previous Vitrectomy. Am J Ophthalmol 161:172-80

Papagiannuli E, Rhodes B, Wallace GR, Gordon C, Murray PI and Denniston AK (2016) Systemic lupus erythematosus: An update for ophthalmologists. Surv Ophthalmol 61(1):65-82

Barry RJ, Alsalem JA, Faassen J, Murray PI, Curnow SJ and Wallace GR (2015) Association analysis of TGFBR3 gene with Behçet's disease and idiopathic intermediate uveitis in a Caucasian population. Br J Ophthalmol 99(5):696-9

Keane PA, Karampelas M, Sim DA, Sadda SR, Tufail A, Sen HN, Nussenblatt RB, Dick AD, Lee RW, Murray PI, Pavesio CE and Denniston AK (2014) Objective measurement of vitreous inflammation using optical coherence tomography. Ophthalmology 121(9):1706-14

Tomlins PJ, Sivaraj RR, Rauz S, Denniston AK and Murray PI (2014) Long-term biocompatibility and visual outcomes of a hydrophilic acrylic intraocular lens in patients with uveitis. J Cataract Refract Surg 40(4):618-25

Barry RJ, Markandey B, Malhotra R, Knott H, Joji N, Mubin M, Denniston AK and Murray PI (2014) Evidence-based practice in Behçet's disease: identifying areas of unmet need for 2014. Orphanet J Rare Dis 9:16

Barry RJ, Nguyen QD, Lee RW, Murray PI and Denniston AK (2014) Pharmacotherapy for uveitis: current management and emerging therapy. Clin Ophthalmol 8:1891-911

View all publications in research portal