Research funding opportunity for College members

  • 03 Apr 2024
  • Communications team

The prestigious Zakarian Awards, which promote the value of research for all, are now open for submissions. Jointly funded by the College and Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation these awards are for early-career ophthalmologists to gain experience and skills by undertaking ophthalmic and vision research, which could lead onto further research or funding opportunities.

Three ophthalmologists will receive a grant of up to £25,000 to conduct research over a 12-month period.

Find out more here

For 2023/24 a total of £73,394 was awarded to three individuals to gather pilot data, learn research skills and explore their potential as vision researchers. This year’s recipients are:

Dr Charles O’Donovan, King’s College London
Currently there are no patient-reported outcome measures for people with inflammatory eye diseases. This research aims to address that by developing a prototype that captures outcomes which actually matter to patients.

Its benefits will include supporting clinical trials of effective treatments as well as clinical assessment and monitoring. For example, directing clinical time towards a particular symptom deemed to be a priority for patients.

Dr Christos Iosifidis, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Mucopolysaccharide (MPS) diseases are a group of rare, life-limiting metabolic disorders that result in a problem with lysosomal function. This means waste products in cells can build up and cause progressive damage. Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIC (MPSIIIC) is one version of MPS, and Dr Iosifidis will investigate how the retina is affected in a model of MPSIIIC and how these affects contribute to retinal damage.

Currently there is no clear understanding of how the eye is affected in patients with faults in the HGSNAT gene, and no current treatment for this condition. This research will begin to tackle that knowledge gap. The award will also help Dr Iosifidis gain key skills for a career in vision research, including eye-related laboratory skills, improved understanding of genetic eye disease and genetic therapies, and research management and design.

Christine Kiire, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of vision loss for people with diabetes, can cause people to lose their central vision. One of the typical treatments for severe levels of diabetic eye disease is panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) laser treatment, however this can in turn affect peripheral vision through laser scars.

The DVLA requires testing for people who undergo PRP treatment, which can raise concerns about a loss of independence for drivers living with the condition. This research aims to generate data on the impact of laser treatment on people’s ability to drive.

You can find more information about the Zakarian Awards, their remit and details of how to apply here