UCL wins half of new Fight for Sight research grants

5 January 2010

UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology has won three out of six new grants from the charity Fight for Sight to research the prevention and treatment of eye disease.

Eye and microscope

The charity has granted awards to members of UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology after announcing a total of more than £900,000 of grant funding last month.

  • Dr Julie Daniels and Professor Mark Lewis have been awarded a £177,992 project grant to research the use of cells taken from the mouth (oral mucosal epithelial cells) for therapeutic transplantation for corneal disease. It is hoped this will lead to the development of a new cell therapy to treat diseases of the cornea – the transparent film on the front surface of the eye that is essential for vision. This research has been co-funded by Fight for Sight together with the Special Trustees of Moorfields Eye Hospital and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Dr Sumit Dhingra has received a Clinical Fellowship Award of £179,980 to research the use of inhibiting enzymes, including matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors, to reduce scarring caused by glaucoma surgery. The research could lead to improved treatment for patients with glaucoma and other eye diseases caused by scarring that are currently untreatable, such as scarring in premature babies.

  • Professor Alison Hardcastle has been awarded a project grant of £169,806 to research the causes of a range of different inherited disorders affecting cone photoreceptor function in patients. Cone photoreceptors are required for daylight and colour vision and there are currently no treatments available for inherited disorders. This project will define the mechanisms leading to cone photoreceptor disorders, which will have a direct impact on the future development of therapies and patient care. This research has received support from the Special Trustees of Moorfields Eye Hospital and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Michèle Acton, Chief Executive of Fight for Sight, said: “The quality of applications we received for the Fight for Sight grants programme was extremely high and we have chosen to fund six research projects that offer real hope to patients currently affected by eye disease and blindness.”

Image above right: Eye looking through microscope


UCL context

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is a world-leading centre for eye research and is one of a number of specialised biomedical research centres within UCL. Its collaboration with Moorfields Eye Hospital, which has the largest ophthalmic patient population in the Western World, opens the way for advances at the forefront of vision research. The Institute conducts cutting-edge science, attracting research workers of the highest international calibre and is involved in training graduate research students as part of its vision to develop the researchers of tomorrow.

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