Associate Professor Krisztina Valter-Kocsi

MD, PhD, GradCert HE, SFHEA
Associate Professor of Anatomy and Associate Director of HDR, ANU Medical School
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Cell Physiology 111601
  • Ophthalmology 111301
  • Central Nervous System 110903
  • Vision Science 111303
  • Cell Metabolism 060104
  • Sensory Systems 110906
  • Biochemistry And Cell Biology 0601
  • Physiology 0606
  • Other Medical And Health Sciences 1199
  • Curriculum And Pedagogy 1302

Research interests

My research has been focused on degenerative diseases of the retina, from the molecular and cellular level, to the clinical. My published work has made an impact in two particular areas: (1) The role of oxygen levels in the stability and degeneration of photoreceptors; and (2) the retina's ability to self-protect against stress, using the regulated expression of protective factors. In the former area I was the first to demonstrate the oxygen dependence of several forms of photoreceptor degeneration; in the latter I have shown the sites of trophic factor binding to organelles of the photoreceptor. These lines of research have led to the formulation and testable hypotheses concerning the mechanisms that either damage or protect photoreceptors. Using the light-induced model of retinal degeneration, I was able to test the effects of protective factors and investigate their action mechanism on the stressed retina. To characterise this model further, I started to investigate the role of mitochondrial damage, metabolic changes and oxidative damage in light-induced photoreceptor injury.

In the past 5 years I have been working on cell biology-based, non-invasive therapeutic approaches to manage retinal degenerations. I have been assessing the effects of light management in collaboration with Prof Jonathan Stone (USYD), photobiomodulation (using near-infrared light irradiation) in collaboration with Prof Janis Eells (University of Milwaukee, US) and dietary saffron in collaboration with Prof Silvia Bisti (University of L'Aquila, Italy) on the progress of retinal photoreceptor damage or death. I tested these approaches on models of retinal degeneration, with both environmental and genetic background. I was able to demonstrate that light management is a relatively simple and cost-effective way to slow retinal degeneration, at least in some forms of retinal degenerations (in the P23H-3 model). I also showed that photobiomodulation can slow degeneration in the developing P23H-3 retina, as well as protect from light-induced degeneration. Experiments with saffron supplementation also showed that it is potentially a valuable tool in slowing or preventing some forms of degenerations. In collaborations with Dr Ulrike Mathesius (RSB, ANU) we are exploring effects of photobiomodulation on protein level changes.
In the past 3 years I have started to look at the role of complement in the initiation and maintenance of retinal degeneration. In collaboration with Prof Jan Provis (ANUMS), we are investigating the events that activate the complement system and could be responsible for the loss pf photoreceptors leading to blindness in conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Recently, I formed collaboration with Profs Girish Kotwal (US), Goδmundur J. Arason (Iceland) and Gudni À. Alfredsson (Iceland) to investigate the possible beneficial effecto of a novel complement inhibitor in the retina.


I received my medical degree (MD) in 1986 in Budapest, Hungary and became a Fellow of the Association of Hungarian Ophthalmologists in 1990. I completed my PhD at The University of Sydney in 2000 on the role of the environment in the initiation or progression of retinal degenerations. Thereafter, I took on a postdoctoral research position in the Department of Anatomy and Histology at The University of Sydney. During my years at USYD I have participated in and formed many scientific collaborations, including a long-standing collaborative relationship with Prof Silvia Bisti, at the Universitá di L'Aquila, Italy.  In early 2003 I left The University of Sydney and took up a postdoctoral position at the Research School of Biological Sciences at The ANU. I became a chief investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science in 2006. I also received a graduate certificate in teaching in higher education in 2008 (ANU,CEDAM)

Researcher's projects






Effects of photobiomodulation on stressed retinae
Inhibiting innate immunity to prevent retinal degeneration  

Macrophage polarisation in retinal degeneration

The effect of photobiomodulation on macrophage polarisation

Muller cell gliosis and the effect of photobiomodulation

Effect of photobiomodulation on the detached retina

The effects of photobiomodulation on the developing and stressed retina.



Interactive 3D models in anatomy teaching

Medical student attitude to learning

Conceptualisation in anatomy teaching

Encourage creativity to develop better scientific and medical skills

Beyond anatomy: the broader benefits of Human dissection programs in the medical school



Current student projects


1. The effects of photobiomodulation on the developing stressed retina - a model of retinopathy of prematurity

2. The development and characterisation of a retinal trauma model.

3. The protective and healing effects of photobiomodulation on damaged or stressed retinae.

4. Investigating changes in Muller glia following retinal damage and exporing the effects of photobiomodulation on Muller cell gliosis.



1. Exploration into the perceived and real value of art practice in students learning and well-being: An insight into science students’ perspective.

2. Impact of creative processes on time management and teamwork ability of medical students.

3. Anatomy and art

4. Interactive models in anatomy teaching

5. Online games in medical and science education

6. The importance of dissection in modern medical education - the student perspective

7. Medical students' attitude towards learning

8. Student-created videos in science nad mdeical education





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Updated:  18 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers