Dr Riccardo Natoli



I am an Early Career Researcher teaching Genetics at the ANU Medical School and conducting research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. My primary research interest is in the study of factors causing blindness, predominantly photoreceptor degeneration, and in devising therapies for protecting against vision loss. Our lab studies diseases such as Retinopathy of Prematurity, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Diabetic Retinopathy and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The most common cause of blindness in Australia is AMD, costing the Australian economy ~5 billion dollars annually (Deloitte – Eyes on the Future, 2011). Current projections indicate that by 2030, 1.7 million people in Australia will have vision loss resulting from AMD. The risk factors for AMD are well known, as is the association with underlying inflammatory dysregulation.

My most recent work has been involved in elucidating the role of miRNA in the degenerating retina, there role in modulating inflammation and there potential use as therapeutics. In my PhD studies (completed 2009) I used molecular approaches to investigate the effects of novel ‘anti-oxidant’ therapeutics, including 670nm light and saffron, in a retinal degeneration model (Natoli et al., 2010). This work revealed that a large number of non-coding RNA are regulated in the degenerating retina. This has lead me to investigate miRNA in retinal degeneration, and to verify in my most recent publication (Saxena, etal…Natoli., 2015 – In Press, IOVS) the modulation of 37 known miRNA in the rat model of retinal degeneration and inflammation. 

My work also showed that 670nm red light changes the mRNA expression profile of the retina, and led me to investigate the use of red light in management of retinopathy of prematurity in mouse and rat models (Natoli et al., 2013 PLoS One). Those findings resulted in a clinical collaboration at the Canberra Hospital and has enabled a Phase 1 clinical trial which is underway (March, 2015), to investigate the efficacy of 670nm light for protection against retinopathy of prematurity in premature infants.  A safety and feasibility study into using 670nm therapy in premature neonates has recently been published (Kent, etal…. Natoli, 2015).

Recent news:

  • Watch the SBS Viceland episode featuring Riccardo and the donation team speaking  about body donation and importance of body donation for education and research here

Congratulations to Dr Riccardo Natoli, from The Provis Group at The Eccles Institute of Neuroscience, JCSMR and ANUMS who was awarded the Supervisor's Prize in the recent ANU 3 Minute Thesis (ANU3MT) Final.

Riccardo's PhD student, Joshua Chu-Tan won the 2016 ANU Three Minute Thesis (3MT), speaking about developing gene therapies for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world.and has since gone on to compete in the Asia-Pacific final.

Livestream of the ANU 3MT Final presentation, including the announcement of Dr Natoli's Supervisor's Prize:




    Updated:  25 September 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director, JCSMR/Page Contact:  Web Manager