Eye Translational Research Unit EyeTRU


Vision loss is a growing challenge for society as the population is ageing. In EyeTRU, our goal is to conduct research that can prevent visual impairment and improve quality of life of people with eye diseases. We have a particular focus on glaucoma, which is one of the most common causes of blindness. Our slogan is "going for gaps in glaucoma". Our research is translational (bridging between sciences), and all research projects have the needs of patients in mind. Our research group emphasizes teamwork and knowledge sharing. Thus, we always collaborate internally, but also extensively with both national and international collaborators. Our current research areas are described under "main research focus"

Group picture

photo: year seminar 2023


Research projects in EyeTRU are all initiated because of a need for patients with sight-threatening eye diseases. We have a special focus on glaucoma. We use the slogan "going for gaps in glaucoma".
Our research ranges from preclinical studies to clinical research. Our research is translational and always has the patient's needs in mind. In our preclinical studies, we investigate the pathophysiological mechanisms of glaucoma. We have several translational studies where we use patient tissue to either make human in vitro models or omics studies where we investigate possible treatment targets or biomarkers that could potentially help understand the links between glaucoma and the body. We are also conducting epidemiological studies and clinical trials to evaluate associations and co-morbidities and to evaluate and test medicines for the treatment of glaucoma. Finally, we are leading an ambitious population study where, in collaboration with Synoptik and a larger consortium, we are collecting large amounts of clinical eye data that will, among other things, pave the way for risk stratification of the population so that those with sight-threatening eye diseases can receive timely treatment while resources are not spent on those without the risk of developing a visual impairment.

In general, we believe in teamwork. Therefore, all projects in EyeTRU involve several group members and collaborators. We seek to create synergy in all our research projects by combining expertise to pave the way for better eye health.








We conduct in vitro and ex vivo studies to understand the pathophysiology of blinding retinal conditions. We focus on understanding the pathophysiology of the retinal ganglion cells and their surrounding glial cells (Müller glia). Research methods: in our preclinical studies we use mice and rats as model systems. From these, we set up primary cell cultures, co-cultures and retinal explants. In collaboration, we also perform in vivo experiments. In our group, we currently perform Western blot analysis, metabolic studies (GCMS and HPLC), Seahorse analyses, ATP assays, viability assays, immunohistochemistry and elisa. Main collaborators: Pete Williams, Blanca I. Aldana, Nicolas G Bazan. Main Funding: Mauritzens la Fontaine Familiefond, The Candys Foundation, the Beckett Foundation.










We are running industry and investigator initiated clinical trials at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, but also at the Department of Ophthalmology, Rigshospitalet. We are investigating new treatment targets and comparing existing treatments to improve treatments and to prevent visual impairment in the growing glaucoma population. Research methods: advanced clinical evaluations, statistics, translational methods to evaluate human samples (e.g., omics, elisa, immunohistochemistry). Main collaborators: Barbara Cvenkel, Pete Williams, Theis Lange, Claus Henrik Nielsen. Main Funding: Thea Pharmaceuticals, Abbvie, the Novo Nordisk Foundation.



We perform epidemiological studies to improve the management of glaucoma and to understand associations and co-morbidities Research methods: The National Registers, including the Drug Registry, Patients with glaucoma, statistics, multicenter studies, and novel tools to detect unrecognized visual field defects. Main collaborator: Christian Torp-Pedersen, Anne Pernille Toft-Petersen. Main funding: The Helse Foundation, the Synoptik Foundation.



We have a particular focus on translational research where we involve patients and patient tissue as tools to pave the way for better management of glaucoma.

Stem cell studies

We are using skin biopsies and blood samples from strictly phenotypes patients with glaucoma (high tension glaucoma and normal tension glaucoma) as well as patients with ocular hypertension and age-matched controls. From the skin biopsies, we grow fibroblasts and develop pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) that are finally differentiated into retinal organoids. We are using the retinal organoids to understand the pathophysiology of glaucomatous neurodegeneration and to identify new potential treatment target to save sight. Research methods: iPSC-derived retinal organoids, MACS to isolate retinal ganglion cells and glia cells. Immunohistochemistry, omics and electron microscopy. Main collaborator: Kristine Freude. Main funding: The Velux Foundation, Glaucoma Rearch Foundation, the Hørslev Foundation.

Cohort studies

We emphasize how important strictly phenotyping when establishing cohorts. By means of fibroblasts and blood samples, we are searching for biomarkers and associations that can pave the way for risk profiling, diagnostics, prognostics and potentially new treatment targets. Research techniques: Patient cohorts consisting of various glaucoma subtypes, universal hypoxia, blood sampling, skin biopsy and fibroblast culturing, ELISA, leucocyte isolation, Western blot analysis and Seahorse analyses. Main funding: Bagenkop Nielsens Øjen-Fond, Fight for Sight, Denmark. Main collaborators: Pete Williams, Dan Stærk, Guy Lenaers, Stine Jacoby.

Goblet cell studies

We are performing experiments to improve the ocular surface in patients with glaucoma and ocular surface disease. In these projects, we involve stakeholders in improving regulations on the use of eye drops for glaucoma. A particular focus is to remove preservatives from eye drops to care for the surface of the eye so that side effects of treatments are reduced and adherence and quality of life are improved. We are also focusing on generics that cannot be expected to be identical to the originals. In this context, we are also calling on stakeholders and are in dialogue with the Medicines Agency. 
Finally, we are looking at how we can improve the survival of the goblet cells, so that we can help the many people with dry and irritated eyes. Research methods: Human primary goblet cell cultures, viability assays, elisa, immunohistochemistry, metabolic studies (GCMS and HPLC) and Seahorse analyses. Main collaborators: Darlene Dartt, Tor Utheim, Goran Petrovski, Steffen Heegaard. Main funding: The Synoptik Foundation, Bagenkop Nielsens Øjen-Fond, Fight for Sight, Denmark, The Eye Foundation.



Finding Opthalmic Risk and Evaluating the Value of Eye exams and their predictive Reliability.

Through a collaboration with Synoptik A/S comprehensive data from extensive eye examinations, questionnaires, blood pressure measurements will be linked to genetic information and data in the Danish National Health Registries. With this project, we have an opportunity to study and improve eye health as well as general health of the aging population.

The overall objectives of project FOREVER are:

  • To identify risk factors and predictors of visual disability
  • To identify risk factors and predictors of systemic conditions
  • To validate the current eye health check in Synoptik A/S

Research methods: Clinical data analysis, data management, AI, deep learning, epidemiological tools, statistics. Main collaborators: the FOREVER consortium. Main Funding: The Synoptik Foundation, the Velux Foundation. Additional Funding: The A.P. Møller foundation. Read more about project FOREVER at: https://forever.ku.dk/
































































We are extremely grateful to all fund supporters. In EyeTRU we make an effort to seek support from all relevant parties. We appreciate all contributions large and small.  The total support makes our research possible and we are constantly doing our best, through our research, to pave the way for better eye health.

  • Fight for Sight, Denmark
  • Jørgen Bagenkop Nielsens Myopi-Fond
  • Mauritzen La Fontaine Fonden
  • Mauritzen La Fontaine Familiefond
  • Private investors
  • Savværksejer Jeppe Juhl og Hustru Ovita Juhls Mindelegat
  • The AP Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Foundation
  • The Eye Foundation (Øjenfonden)
  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation
  • The Synoptik Foundation
  • The Velux Foundation


We are extremely grateful to all fund supporters. In EyeTRU we make an effort to seek support from all relevant parties. We appreciate all contributions large and small.  The total support makes our research possible and we are constantly doing our best, through our research, to pave the way for better eye health.

  • Asta og Jul. P. Justesens Foundation
  • The Beckett Foundation
  • Dansk Glaukom Forening
  • The Hørslev Foundation
  • The Lundbeck Foundation
  • Læge Sofus Carl Emil Friis og hustru Olga Doris Friis’ Legat
  • The Michaelsen Foundation
  • Aase and Ejnar Danielsen’s Foundation
  • William Demant Fonden



Finding Opthalmic Risk and Evaluating the Value of Eye exams and their predictive Reliability





Group leader

Group Leader

Miriam Kolko
Professor in Translational Eye Research and Senior Consultant (Glaucoma Specialist)

Phone +45 2980 7667