Scholarships, awards and prizes

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists offers a range of scholarships, awards and prizes every year to undergraduates, researchers and clinicians. Interested? Find out more here.

Each year, the RCOphth offers a generous number of scholarships, travel awards and clinical/research fellowships in partnership with other organisations. These cover a wide variety of areas, from specialist research, to help with funding electives for undergraduates.

An award grant is a great way to enhance continued professional development and contribute to research, service development and audit for the benefit of eye care services in the UK.

Awards are added through out the year. Pease watch out for announcements in EyeMail and on College social media platforms.  Direct any travel Awards & Scholarship enquiries to [email protected].

We ask all our reward recipients to submit a written report within three months of completing their fellowship/research, using this report format guidance. The report is circulated to the RCOphth Education Committee and the awarding body.

Open Awards

The RCOphth Zakarian Awards are designed to support three categories of researchers:

  • Ophthalmology trainees not in the IATS or other research training posts seeking to undertake research. Support can be sought for consumables, equipment and open access dissemination and for salary support to buy ‘time out’ from a training programme to undertake research
  • Consultants or SAS ophthalmologists holding NHS substantive contracts and without dedicated research time (PAs in job plan). Those holding academic posts/contracts are ineligible. Support can be sought for buying out time in the job plan for research, or for consumables or equipment to establish a research project.
  • Academic Clinical Fellow (NIHR IATS ACF) Ophthalmology trainees seeking to prepare preliminary/pilot data to develop their proposed PhD projects and/or doctoral research training funding applications. Support can be sought for consumables, equipment and open-access dissemination.

We are especially keen to support those without any or very limited prior research experience and/or those not in academic posts in order to help them get started in research, in keeping with the ‘Research For All’ agenda.

Successful applicants are expected to gain experience of and exposure to a research environment in order to increase their skills and knowledge base.

These are prestigious awards, made on a fully competitive and peer-reviewed basis. The call follows a two-stage application process.

Applications must be made and submitted by the intended recipient of the award. It is expected that applications will be submitted in close collaboration with a research Mentor, to maximise the likelihood of successful completion of the research.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview to discuss their application with the award panel.


Applicants are invited to undertake medical research in any area or ophthalmology and vision sciences that aims to;

·        Increase our understanding of how eye diseases and conditions start and develop

·        Prevent eye diseases and conditions occurring

·        Enable eye diseases and conditions to be detected earlier

·        Develop new and improved treatments for eye diseases and conditions

·        Enable clinicians to better support their patients with established eye conditions

·        Inform the development of health and other policy in the area of ophthalmology or sight impairment

The applicant is expected to publish the data gathered during the course of the award and use the experience to strengthen future further research.


·        Applicants must be affiliated with UK academic or medical institutions

·        Applicants must be a member of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists

·        Mentors must have a contract which extends beyond the end date of the award

·        Animal research – please see information

Financial support and duration

  • Grant of up to £25,000 for one year
  • Includes the costs of
    • consumables
    • buying ‘time out’ for applicants in training programme (if relevant)
    • open access publication costs
  • Excludes indirect costs and any other non-attributable overhead costs.


The deadline for applications is 13:00 on Tuesday 18 July 2023. Please note applications past the deadline will not be accepted. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 5 September 2023. Candidates are asked to hold this date. Successful applicants will be notified in October with the award expected to start by December 2023.

Contact us

For any queries relating to your proposal please contact Fight for Sight at [email protected] or The Royal College of Ophthalmologists at [email protected].

Application must be submitted via our online Grants Management system
Late applications will not be considered.

The Ulverscroft Foundation gives financial help to Universities which carry out research into the causes of eye diseases; funds eye clinics, hospitals, schools, libraries and other organisations which help visually impaired people.

Since 2007 it has supported the Ulverscroft Vision Research Group (UVRG) at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health UCL, funding PhD studentships, clinical research training fellowships and academic posts in key disciplines including ophthalmic statistics, to build a hub for academic paediatric ophthalmology and visual sciences.

In memory of David Owen who chaired the Foundation during this period and shaped its relationship with the UVRG, the Foundation is offering in partnership with The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, an annual prize of £500 in recognition of high-quality research in paediatric ophthalmology and visual sciences to promote academic paediatric ophthalmology. The award recognises the team undertaking the research and is accepted on the team’s behalf by the first author.

The winner of the  Ulverscroft David Owen Awards 2023 will be announced by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists soon!

Previous recipients

2022 Dr Sohaib Riyaz Rufai and colleagues at The University of Leicester Ulverscroft Eye Unit
2021 Lucinda Teoh and the British Childhood Visual Impairment and Blindness Study Interest Group
2020  Amy Gerrish and her co-authors from Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
2019 Lola Solebo and her colleagues including the British Congenital Cataract Interest Group
The 2023 award will be presented at the RCOphth Annual Congress, Monday 22 to Thursday 25 May 2023, in Birmingham. A representative of the awarded team will present a talk to explain the impact of the research and how it has contributed to change.
Timetable for 2023 award:
  • Applications open: 17 October 2022
  • Applications close: 6 January 2023
  • Announcement of winner: 4 February 2023
  • Award made at Congress 2023 Awards Ceremony in Birmingham
Judging panel:
Subgroup of the Academic Sub-committee and the Paediatric Sub-committee.

Awards & Prizes Reports

Read the reports from previous successful applicants and hear what they achieved with their awards and prizes.

Read more