UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Institute research student led team shortlisted for national Public Engagement award

28 October 2016

Thousands of people are getting involved with UK research. Far from being disengaged with society, researchers are engaging with the public in innovative and effective ways. From inspiring young people with new advances in knowledge, to encouraging members of the public to contribute to research, university public engagement is thriving.

This is exemplified by the work of the Institute of Ophthalmology, where researchers funded by the Moorfields-NIHR Biomedical Research Centre have been shortlisted for a national award for their public engagement work. Eating for Eye Health is one of three projects shortlisted for the Health and Wellbeing award, in the national Engage Competition run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE).

The project is led by PhD student Rose Gilbert: “There are limited treatment options upon a diagnosis of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which progressively threatens central vision and quality of life. As a doctor, I wanted to raise awareness of the research that suggests nutrition may help protect against the progression of AMD and then encourage patients to cook and eat food that could support eye health. UCL Public and Cultural Engagement awarded me a grant to run a project called “Eating for Eye Health”.  Our aims were to educate people with dry AMD about nutrition and eye health, to research cooking preferences/skills and to strengthen the relationship between the local community and UCL”

Being shortlisted for the NCCPE award is a remarkable achievement – finalists have been selected from over 180 entries which demonstrate a broad range of high quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences. Finalists’ work ranged from digitally reconstructing city histories to protecting endangered species; from working with older people as researchers to delivering hyper-local science festivals; from young children conducting their own research to influence the United Nations, to using theatre to improve oral health outcomes.

Institute Director, Prof Andrew Dick, said “We are delighted to have Eating for Eye Health recognised as a finalist in the NCCPE competition. We believe that it is really important for researchers to engage with the public, and this project exemplifies why it matters.”

Paul Manners, Director of the NCCPE said “The Engage Competition is a highlight of our work at the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. It uncovers amazing people, projects, partners and research. This year did not disappoint. The quality of the applications has been higher than ever, showcasing the very best of engagement practice across all disciplines and participant groups - reaching from the very local to the global.”

There are six competition categories, and the winner of each category will receive a prize of £1,500 to go towards further public engagement work. The winners will be decided on the 28th November, before being announced at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference, on 29th November 2016.