Alastair Denniston is a consultant ophthalmologist (eye specialist) at University Hospitals Birmingham leading research into the use of health data research and artificial intelligence to improve patient care in the ‘real world’. He is Professor at the University of Birmingham, and part of the Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital/UCL.
Alastair has particular interest in how we can ensure that the innovation within the broad field of ‘artificial intelligence’ is translated efficiently but safely to benefit patients. This includes improving the reporting standards of trials (CONSORT-AI and SPIRIT-AI), helping define the regulatory framework for AI in healthcare, and working with HDRUK and other relevant organisations to support the best of these innovations right through the implementation pathway.
He is Director of INSIGHT, the HDRUK Health Data Research Hub for Eye Health which is focused on eye disease and its application to wider health, including diabetes and dementia. It will use anonymised large-scale data and advanced analytics, including artificial intelligence, to develop new insights in disease detection, diagnosis, treatments and personalised healthcare.
Alastair’s specialist interests within ophthalmology are ocular immunity, ocular imaging and outcome measurement in inflammatory eye disease. 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. His laboratory work in immunology is directed towards understanding what causes intraocular inflammation (uveitis) and other forms of inflammatory eye disease. In the clinic with his collaborator Pearse Keane University College London, UK), he has demonstrated the potential for newer forms of imaging such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to provide much-needed objective markers for intraocular inflammation (uveitis). With Pearse Keane and colleagues across the UK and US, he has established EQUATOR an international collaboration of researchers working on ‘Extended OCT-Quantification of Uveitis Activity for Trial Outcomes and Reporting’. He is a passionate advocate of the need to develop better measures for inflammatory eye diseases which are objective and quantifiable to improve the power of clinical trials and inform day-to-day treatment decisions. This work is balanced by a prioritisation of patient reported outcomes (PROs) for ocular inflammatory disease working with Professor Mel Calvert as part of CPROR).
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, the Big Bang and the British Science Festival.
Alastair’s motivation, whether in research or in the clinic, is to improve the care of patients with potentially blinding disease.