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Women in Science

Christine studied medicine at Oxford. During her training she decided she wanted to be an ophthalmic surgeon. She spent some time doing full time research and got her Doctorate in Medicine. She has nearly finished her specialist training. She has won a Fulbright scholarship, so next year will study the epidemiology of diabetic eye disease in the USA.

Portrait of Christine Kiire© Women in Science


at the time of the interview – May 2015

Christine is an Ophthalmology Registrar in the Oxford Eye Hospital and recently completed her DM degree in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. 

Extended biography

at the time of the interview - May 2015

Christine was born in Uganda but started school in Zimbabwe and then did her ‘A’ levels in the UK. She enjoyed science, particularly chemistry. Her father is an academic physician who inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.

Try to have a range of interests, I found that that served me well because you don’t know what’s going to be the next big thing in the future and what’s going to be exciting

Christine was a medical student at Oxford. When she applied she made it clear that she wanted to pursue an academic career. During her third year she did a degree in Natural Sciences, and during that time she did a research project in a laboratory. When she was in her fifth year she had a two week placement in the ophthalmology department and thought that the cataract operation she was watching was ‘the most elegant surgery she had ever seen’. At that point she decided to become an ophthalmic surgeon.

Christine did her medical ‘house job’ in the Nuffield Department of Medicine in Oxford and her surgical ‘house job’ in general surgery in Bath. She then moved to Edinburgh to do Internal medicine and to get her Membership of the Royal College of Physicians. After her medical rotation she started to specialise in ophthalmology and subsequently moved to Glasgow.

Christine completed her Membership exams for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and then decided to do a higher research degree. A visiting speaker from Oxford gave a talk about the macula, which Christine found very interesting. She approached him for suggestions on potential supervisors and macular projects for an MD or PhD. He offered her funding to do a Doctorate in Medicine (DM) at Oxford. Christine did two year’s research full time and then two more years, during which she did full time clinical work as well as research in her own time. Part of her research time was spent in the lab and part in the eye hospital. She was looking at a sub-type of diabetic retinopathy, to see if it had a genetic aspect.

After her DM, Christine spent a year in Malawi, as a Clinical Research Fellow, doing a postdoctoral research job. This was a salaried post, mostly funded by the British Council for Prevention of Blindness and partly by the Wellcome Trust. She was looking at the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

Christine is now doing other research projects too. She has obtained funding from the Oxfordshire Health Services Research Group. In future she would like to do more research, particularly in the field of diabetic retinopathy. She has recently won a Fulbright Scholarship and next year, when she has finished her clinical training, she will go to the USA to study the epidemiology of diabetic eye disease. While in the USA she also plans to design a project and apply for more fellowship funding. She would like to be an independent investigator with her own research programme.

Christine has never experienced gender discrimination though she is aware that most of the senior members of the department are male. She thinks that women who have children often find it challenging to combine a family with research and clinical work. Christine works hard and enjoys her work. She thinks that it is an exciting time to be a scientist. Ethnic background/nationality: British/Ugandan.