Dr Jose M Romero Hombrebueno PhD

Dr Jose M Romero Hombrebueno

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Hale-Rudd Lecturer in Experimental Ophthalmology

Contact details

The Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Jose is a visual neuroscientist with a big interest in bringing novel therapeutics and stop sight loss. His major goal is to bridge the gap between discovery science and patient's benefit.


  • PhD in Visual Neurosciences, 2011
  • MSc in Biotechnology in Health Sciences, 2006
  • BSc in Biology, 2003


Jose studied for a PhD in Visual Neuroscience at the University of Alicante (Spain), where he investigated the mechanisms of neuronal plasticity in retinitis pigmentosa and refractive disorders of the eye (myopia). As the recipient of a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (FPU), he visited other institutions that were fundamental in his PhD, including the University of Oxford (UK), University of Southern California (USA) and University of Newcastle (Australia).

Jose then moved to Queen's University Belfast in 2012, where he investigated the mechanisms leading to retinal degeneration in diabetic retinopathy, age-related and inflammatory-related. He was awarded with a Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator Award in 2016, to develop his own independently funded research programme and elucidate novel mitochondrial-based therapy for the management of diabetic retinopathy.

In 2019, Jose joined the University of Birmingham (Institute of Inflammation and Ageing) as a Hale-Rudd Lecturer in Experimental Ophthalmology. His major goal is to understand how mitochondrial dysfunction impacts on eye disease and elucidate novel therapies to stop sight loss.


Research interests

Jose's research focus is on understanding how mitochondrial dysfunction impacts on eye disease and whether it can be targeted for therapy. Irreversible mitochondrial dysfunction involves a major event in many ocular disorders, including diabetic retinopathy, optic neuropathies, inflammatory and aging-related disorders. The accumulation of broken mitochondria may pose a severe risk for vision, since 1) damaged mitochondria do not produce energy efficiently and disrupts the power system of the retina and 2) they are a source of toxic waste, which may origin retinal disease. In the healthy retina, this problem is prevented by tight Mitochondrial Quality Control (MQC), where faulty mitochondria are simply removed and replaced by newly-synthetized functional units. Using appropriate disease models, Jose pursues to determine how MQC becomes dysregulated in ocular disease and its contribution to neurovascular degeneration. His main goal focuses in applying this knowledge to develop novel interventional strategies for eye therapy.

Current projects

Targeting mitochondrial turnover for the treatment of sight-threatening disorders.


Lechner J, Hombrebueno JR, Pedrini E, Chen M, Xu H. (2019) Sustained intraocular vascular endothelial growth factor neutralisation does not affect retinal and choroidal vasculature in Ins2Akita diabetic mice. Diab Vasc Dis Res.16(5):440-449.

Hombrebueno JR, Ali IH, Ma JX, Chen M, Xu H (2018) Antagonizing Wnt/β-catenin signalling ameliorates lens capsulotomy-induced retinal degeneration in diabetes. Diabetologia. 61(11):2433-2446.

Church RH, Ali I, Tate M, Lavin D, Krishnakumar A, Kok HM, Hombrebueno JR, Dunne PD, Bingham V, Goldschmeding R, Martin F, Brazil DP (2017). Gremlin1 plays a key role in kidney development and renal fibrosis. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology. 312(6):F1141-F1157.

Hombrebueno JR, Ali IH, Xu H, Chen M (2015). Sustained intraocular VEGF neutralization results in retinal neurodegeneration in the Ins2(Akita) diabetic mouse. Scientific Reports. 5:18316.

Hombrebueno JR, Chen M, Penalva R, Xu H (2014) Loss of synaptic connectivity, particularly in second order neurons is a key feature of diabetic retinal neuropathy in the Ins2Akita mouse. PLoS One. 21;9(5):e97970.

Albert-Fort M, Hombrebueno JR, Pons-Vazquez S, Sanz-Gonzalez S, Diaz-Llopis M, Pinazo-Durán MD (2014) Retinal neurodegenerative changes in the adult insulin receptor substrate-2 deficient mouse. Experimental Eye Research. 124:1-10.

Hombrebueno JR, Luo C, Guo L, Chen M, Xu H (2014) Intravitreal Injection of Normal Saline Induces Retinal Degeneration in the C57BL/6J Mouse. Translational Vision Science and Technology. 3:3.

Chen M, Hombrebueno JR, Luo C, Penalva R, Zhao J, Colhoun L, Pandi SP, Forrester JV, Xu H (2013) Age- and light-dependent development of localised retinal atrophy in CCL2(-/-)CX3CR1(GFP/GFP) mice. PLoS One. 8:e61381.

Francou MM, Hombrebueno JR, De Juan J (2012) Identification and cellular location of glutamine synthetase in human sperm. Cell and Tissue Research. 350:183-7.

Hombrebueno JR, Lee EJ, Martinez-Ruiz N, García-Alcázar A, Grzywacz NM, De Juan J (2011) Aquaporin-4 immunoreactivity in Müller and amacrine cells of teleost fish retina. Brain Research. 1432:46-55.

Hombrebueno JR, Tsai MM, Kim HL, De Juan J, Grzywacz NM, Lee EJ (2010) Morphological changes of short wavelength cones in the developing S334ter-3 transgenic rat. Brain Research. 1321, 60-6.

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