UCL receives £30m UKRPIF grant for Oriel, a partnership with Moorfields
10 July 2019
UCL and Moorfields Eye Hospital’s plans for a new eye health centre have been bolstered by a £30 million grant from Research England.
The joint venture between the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Moorfields Eye Charity proposes to develop a transformative, purpose-built centre for advanced eye health to deliver world-leading eye care for patients, the best education for students, and research for the benefit of the whole population.
The government funding comes from Research England’s flagship UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), as part of an announcement of £221 million for research facilities across the country.
Each funded project needs to include match funding worth at least double the UKRPIF contribution, so the partners on the joint project, called Oriel, are working with private philanthropic donors to reach a £100 million funding goal.
“Major eye diseases pose a growing health and economic burden, as it is estimated that 4 million people in the UK will be experiencing sight loss by 2050. At UCL and Moorfields, we intend to be at the forefront of the global challenge to improve the lives of people with sight loss,” said Professor Andrew Dick, Director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.
“Our vision is to bring together UCL’s powerful research base with the world-class healthcare delivery of Moorfields into one integrated centre of research, education and care. We hope that by providing this infrastructure we will encourage more partners to join us in our mission to overcome world blindness,” he said.
The proposed new centre, which could open in the King’s Cross area in 2026 by relocating the existing hospital and institute facilities, aims to provide a flexible, purpose-built, patient-focussed environment that will allow clinicians and researchers to work together on clinical trials and other cutting-edge research to tackle the eye problems that represent a growing global health and economic burden.
“By bringing together clinicians, scientists, patients and the wider public all under one roof with access to newer facilities, we aim to develop new treatments, and improve both patient outcomes and the staff and student experience,” said Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences.
“We hope the new location will accelerate our impact on improving global eye health by enabling the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields to develop closer collaborations with research groups across UCL and with other partner institutions in the area’s burgeoning scientific hub.”
Research priorities will range from seeking a fundamental understanding of disease mechanisms to developing new therapies and diagnostics.
David Probert, chief executive officer for Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “This is fantastic news and is a really exciting opportunity for us and our proposal to design, build and operate a new, integrated eye care, research and education facility with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.
“We're very proud of the role we play with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in leading ophthalmic services in London, the UK and abroad, and we look forward to continuing this role in our proposed new state of the art facility.”
Robert Dufton, chief executive of Moorfields Eye Charity, said: “The RPIF award is wonderful news for the partnership and Oriel. It is recognition of how significant this proposed integrated centre is, delivering breakthrough treatments and revolutionising eye healthcare. It will benefit Moorfields’ patients and those with sight problems worldwide. As the award is dependent on matched funding from MEC and other donors, it provides a great opportunity to attract additional philanthropic support.”
The project team has secured an option on a two-acre, NHS-owned site, and a design team has been appointed to design the proposed centre: AECOM, working with Penoyre and Prasad and White Arkitekter.
A public consultation with patients, families, carers and local communities is ongoing until September 2019.
- Artists' rendering of the proposed centre.