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Professor Alicja Rudnicka

Professor of Statistical Epidemiology
Ophthalmic and cardiovascular epidemiology research, undergraduate teaching, PhD supervision

Professor Alicja Rudnicka is a Professor in Statistical Epidemiology in the Population Health Research Institute. Her recent research has focused on the quantification of the retinal microvasculature from retinal images and examining the utility of this as a biomarker of vascular health/status in relation to health outcomes such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease.  She has examined retinal vessel characteristics in large population-based adult studies in relation to cardiometabolic risk markers and disease, including the EPIC Norfolk and UK Biobank datasets.  Alicja has also undertaken complex Bayesian meta-analysis in ophthalmic epidemiology to quantify the global burden of common eye diseases.  With the Population Health Research Institute she collaborates with colleagues on other areas of public health importance including the effect of the built environment on health, accuracy of body composition measurement in children the difference ethnic groups as well as collaborating with colleagues within St Georges, Hospital Trust on breast cancer surgery research.

Professor Rudnicka is undergraduate lead for Population Health and Evidence Based Practice on the MBBS 5 year programme. She also responsible for curriculum planning and development of medical statistics and epidemiology on the MBBS and Biomedical Sciences programmes at St George’s, and teaches on MSc courses to postgraduate students from a wide range of clinical and non-clinical backgrounds, in addition to PhD supervision.

Alicja qualified as an Optometrist in 1987 and gained a PhD from City, University of London in 1994. She later achieved a Master’s degree in Medical Statistics in 1998 from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, having been awarded a Medical Research Council scholarship. She was appointed as Researcher at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London later that year and worked on projects related to cardiovascular epidemiology, antenatal screening and Bayesian meta-analyses.

Alicja joined St George's, University of London in 2005 as a Research Fellow and was appointed a Reader in Medical Statistics in 2014. She has worked on lifecourse epidemiological studies examining early life exposures in relation to visual outcomes and cardio-respiratory disease risk and examining ethnic differences in cardiometabolic risk as part of a team on the the Child Heart And Health Study in England (CHASE, a school-based study of the cardiovascular health of 5,000 9-10 year old UK children of white European, black African-Caribbean, and South Asian origin in three UK cities (see http://www.chasestudy.ac.uk/) .

More recently, Alicja has focussed on complex Bayesian meta-analysis in ophthalmic epidemiology to quantify the global burden of common eye diseases; she has also examined retinal vessel characteristics in large population-based adult studies in relation to cardiometabolic risk markers and disease, including the EPIC Norfolk and UK Biobank datasets.

Alicja has published over 140 peer-reviewed papers and in 2017 received an award from The College of Optometrists for her multidisciplinary approach to ophthalmic epidemiology and retinal imaging.

Professor Alicja Rudnicka is a Professor in Statistical Epidemiology in the Population Health Research Institute.

Professor Alicja Rudnicka’s recent research has focused on retinal vessel imaging in relation to health outcomes, in particular type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease.  Working with colleagues from St George’s (Professors Owen, Strachan, Whincup), Kingston University (Professor Barman and Dr Welikala) and Moorfield’s Eye Hospital (Professor Paul Foster), supported by grants from the MRC and BHF, a fully automated retinal image analyses software (QUARTZ) has been developed, which provides a rich quantification of the shape and size of retinal vessels (i.e., vessel tortuosity and width).  The software has been used to process high-resolution fundus images from two large population based cohorts, including UK Biobank and the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) in Norfolk.  Findings have shown that T2D risk factors and prevalent T2D are more strongly associated with the morphology of retinal venules, both in terms of width and tortuosity, while coronary risk factors have a greater influence on arteriolar width.  The utility of retinal vessel characteristics in predicting chronic disease outcomes using prognostic risk modelling is a particular area of interest, and a priority area of research within the Population Health Research Institute.

Stemming from this retinal vasculometry work, Professor Rudnicka has also been involved in a HTA funded project, which showed that automated artificial intelligence enable retinal image analysis software can provide accurate identification of diabetic retinopathy among patients with diabetes attending for annual screening for eye disease, and has the potential to halve the workload for human graders, potentially offering large costs savings to the NHS (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK401895/).  This has led to Professor Rudnicka being part of a multi-disciplinary team (including colleagues from Moorfield’s Eye Hospital, and the Homerton University Hospital) reporting to the Public Health England’s Research Advisory Group and NHS England (London) on the utility of using machine learning software within the NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme, to partially replace manual human grading of retinal images.  

 

In addition to the work outlined above Professor Rudnicka is involved in several projects within the Population Health Research Institute, including the ENABLE London (http://www.enable.sgul.ac.uk/) examining the effect of the built environment on physical activity levels, as well as other health behaviours, Bayesian methods for complex meta-analyses of observational studies to assess the global burden of common eye diseases, and has been involved in life course cardiorespiratory studies within other large UK based cohorts (including the National Child Development Study - 1958 birth cohort).

AR Rudnicka (PI), co-applicants, CG Owen,  D Strachan,  PH Whincup, R Tapp, S Barman (Kingston University). Application of automated retinal vasculometry assessment in children. Welcome ISSF March 2018. £6414 for 2 months.

AR Rudnicka (PI), co-applicants, CG Owen, D Strachan, PH Whincup, S Barman (Kingston University) P Foster(Moorfields Eye Hospital, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL). Automated retinal microvascular quantification as a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk in UK Biobank. British Heart Foundation (February 2016) £194,978 for 30 months. Grant no. PG/15/101/31889

PH Whincup (St. George’s PI), co-applicants: CM Nightingale, AR Rudnicka, CG Owen, DG Cook (St. George’s), J Wells (University College London). British Heart Foundation ‘Body fatness, overweight and obesity in UK South Asian and black African children and adolescents: accurately assessing current patterns and recent time trends and providing improved body mass index (BMI) thresholds for diagnosis of overweight and obesity’ British Heart Foundation, £107,786 for 24 months (2015), Grant no. PG/15/19/31336.

CG Owen (PI), co-applicants AR Rudnicka, PH Whincup, DG Cook, (St George's, University of London), S Cummins, D Lewis (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), A Cooper, A Page (University of Bristol), Billie Gilles-Corti (University of Melbourne, Australia).'Does active design increase walking and cycling? Evaluation of a natural experiment examining whether moving into housing in East Village increases family levels of physical activity, particularly walking and cycling'. National Institute for Health Research– Public Health Programme; Award £607,327 for 46 months (June 2014), Grant no. 12/211/69

CG Owen (PI), co-applicants: AR Rudnicka, P Whincup, DG Cook, A Ellaway (MRC Social and Public Health Science Unit, Glasgow) B Gilles-Corti (University of Melbourne, Australia), A Cooper (University of Bristol). 'Will moving into social and affordable housing in the Athletes' Village increase family physical activity levels? Evaluation of a natural experiment'. National Prevention Research Initiative - Medical Research Council; £684,981 (June 2012, duration 42 months ).

CG Owen (PI), co-applicants: AR Rudnicka, PH Whincup, D Strachan (St George's, University of London), S Barman (Kingston University), P Foster (Moorfields Eye Hospital, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL).  Medical Research Council – Population and Systems Medicine Board ‘Automated retinal microvascular quantification as a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk in later life – Phase 1’ Award £149,756.8 (June 2014 duration 12 months), Grant no. MR/L02005X/1.

E O’Sullivan (PI) (King’s College Hospital), co-applicants S Mackie, A Morgan, J Barrett (St. James’s University Hospital, Leeds), P Patel, P Keane (Moorfields Eye Hospital), SA Barman (Kingston University) AR Rudnicka ,CG Owen (St George’s University of London), R Watts (Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust). ‘An investigation into visual loss in Giant Cell Arteritis’. Fight For Sight Small Grant Award £15,000 (October 2013).

A Tufail (PI), C Egan, AR Rudnicka, CG Owen, C Rudisill, C Bailey, P Taylor. Can automated Diabetic Retinopathy Image Assessment softwares replace one or more steps of manual imaging grading and is this cost-effective and ifs this cost-effective for the English National Screening Programme?', Health Technology Assessment; £385,488 (December 2012, duration 24 months).

PH Whincup (PI), DG Cook, C. Nightingale AR Rudnicka, CG Owen, J Wells (UCL). Body fatness, overweight and obesity in UK South Asian and black African children and adolescents: accurately assessing current patterns and recent time trends and providing improved body mass index thresholds for diagnosis of overweight and obesity. British Heart Foundation PG/15/19/31336 £107,786 (June 2014, duration 24 months.

PH Whincup (PI), DG Cook, AR Rudnicka. Adiposity and obesity in 9-10 year old UK children of South Asian, Black African-Caribbean and White European origin – patterns, determinants and consequences for emerging risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. National Institute of Health Research - PhD training fellowship for CM Nightingale; £303,230 (2010-2013).

CG Owen (PI), PH Whincup, G Wannamethee, AR Rudnicka, DG Cook. Adiposity over the lifecourse and risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, mobility limitation and healthy survival in older men British Heart Foundation; £175396 (October 2010, duration 21 months). Grant no. PG/10/030/28330

CG Owen (PI), AR Rudnicka (Co PI), R Wormald, A Fletcher. Prevalence of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) in the UK . Macular Disease Society; £42008. (January 2010, duration 12 months).

AR Rudnicka (PI), CG Owen, PH Whincup, DG Cook, B Gilmartin, N Logan. A systematic overview of geographic variations and time trends in the prevalence of childhood myopia: implications for aetiology and early prevention. BUPA Foundation; £40,158 (2011-2012).

PH Whincup (PI), DG Cook, CG Owen, AR Rudnicka. Influence of socio-economic factors on emerging risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in 9-10 year-old children of South Asian, black African-Caribbean and white European origin. BUPA Foundation; £80,220 (2010-2012) Grant no. TBF-S09-019.

 CG Owen (PI), PH Whincup, AR Rudnicka, S Barman.  Retinal microvascular structure in British children of South Asian, black African Caribbean and white European origin (Start: 2008; Duration: 24 months; Source: BUPA Foundation; £98741; (2008-2010). Grant no. 755/G25.

Professor Rudnicka is undergraduate lead for Population Health and Evidence Based Practice on the MBBS 5 year programme. She also responsible for curriculum planning and development of medical statistics and epidemiology on the MBBS and Biomedical Sciences programmes at St George’s, and teaches on MSc courses to postgraduate students from a wide range of clinical and non-clinical backgrounds, in addition to PhD supervision.

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