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Research Overview

My research interests are in the biophysical and biochemical properties of the transparent front-of-the-eye tissues, cornea and lens. Of particular interest is how changes in the molecular organisation of the component proteins of these tissues can lead to loss of transparency (i.e. cataract formation in the case of the lens).

This research has been focused on the main constituent lens protein alpha-crystallin. It is a member of the small heat-shock protein family and is a molecular chaperone. One of its functions within the lens is to protect other (target) proteins from unfolding. Using X-ray scattering techniques at the Daresbury synchrotron (Warrington, UK) and neutron diffraction at the ILL, (Grenoble, France) I have been investigation the structural relationship between alpha-crystallin and the target proteins found in the lens during chaperone activity. Currently this research has moved forward to investigate changes in the structure and function of these proteins with ageing processes such as glycation and oxidation.

Alpha-crystallin also occurs in all the major body tissues and plays an important role in protein mis-folding diseases such as Alzheimers disease, and in other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis. In collaboration with Prof John Carver of Adelaide University, we are presently investigating the structural interactions between alpha-crystallin and a wide variety of extra-lenticular target proteins, including amyloidal forming systems.

I am also interested in the effects of ageing on the structural properties of long lived tissues such as the lens and collagen fibres which are the main constituent of tendons and skin. Recently I have had a PhD student investigating such structural changes that occur to glycated animal tendons using Electron Microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques. This study has been in collaboration with Dr Joseph Orgel of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron (Chicago, USA).

More recently I have been investigating the internal structural differences of lenses of different animal species (Cephalopods in particular) using X-ray diffraction and X-ray interferometery both at the SPring-8 synchrotron in Japan and the European synchrotron in Grenoble, France. Part of this study involves measuring the refractive index gradients of different animal species and in human lenses of different ages. We expect that the information from these experiments will be used by optical lens designers to create the next generation of replacement Inter Ocular Lenses (IOLs) used in cataract surgery. This study is in collaboration with Prof Barbara Pierscionek of Kingston University, London.

Teaching Overview

I am the module leader for the first year Geometric Optics module. My lectures include the subject areas of aberrations, magnification and optical systems. I also teach on the Ocular Anatomy and Physiology first year module. The subjects I cover are; the eye lids, tears, the cornea, the lens, the iris, the sclera,   bones of the head and neck and comparative ocular anatomy & function.

I am the module leader for the third year projects module for which the final student have to write their dissertations.

 I am also the module leader of the Study Skills module for the MSc run by WOPEC.

















Research Topics and Related Projects

  • Lens structure and function
  • Lens and corneal transparency
  • Crystallin protein interaction
  • Chaperon protein (alpha-crystallin) structure and function.
  • Ageing and glycation of long lived proteins (crystallins and collagen)
  • Changes in human lens refractive index gradients with age
  • Structural and functional differences in animal lenses


J. Regini and k. Meek, £ 69,000, A structural investigation of Age related Protein Degradation and its Prevention, Research into Ageing, 2006 - 2009

J. Regini and K. Meek, £25,530, An X-ray diffraction Investigation of the structural changes of collagen caused by glycation. £ BBSRC doctoral training PhD studentship, 2009 $acirc; 2013

J. Regini, £1,500, Research into Ageing Travel grant to establish a collaboration in America. 2008

J. Regini, £2850, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, travel/accommodation for two people to conduct experiments at the SPring-8 Synchrotron Japan

B. Pierscionek and J. Regini, £165, 000, The contribution of refractive index to optical quality of the eye : age-adjusted gradient index eye models for novel implant design,  Fight for Sight project grant, 2013- 2016


Research Collaborators

Prof John Carver, Adelaide University, Australia
Prof John Harding, Oxford University
Prof Gerald Elliot, Oxford University
Prof Joseph Orgel, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA
Prof Barbara Pierscionek, Kingston University


Educational and Professional Qualifications

  • 1989 BSc (HonS) Geology, 1990 MSc Radiation Physics, 1994 PhD Biophysics

Academic positions

  • 2003 Lecturer, Cardiff University

Committees and reviewing

  • Time table officer
  • Post graduate committee
  • Board of studies
  • Teaching and Learning Committee
  • Exam board committee