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UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

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Research Fellowships

If you are an early career candidate seeking support in your career development, the IoO Fellowship Committee (IoO FC) is here to help.
current_ucl_ioo_fellows

Image: UCL IoO's current Fellows. From top left to right: Dr Ryan MacDonald, Professor Mariya Moosajee, Dr Gavin Arno, Dr Nikolas Pontikos, Associate Professor Alice Davidson,  Associate Professor Anthony Khawaja, Professor Omar Mahroo, Professor Pearse Keane, Dr Colin Chu.
 

What we offer 

We provide a highly supportive environment in which to develop your career. In addition to advice and administrative support during the application process, you will have a dedicated academic mentor during your Fellowship and opportunities to expand your collaborative network within the institute and across UCL. For some fellowships we may also provide contributions to equipment and PhD studentships.

There are many independent fellowships available to early career researchers to apply to in the UK, Europe and worldwide. We welcome applications for the Career Development Awards from the Wellcome Trust, UKRI, ERC and Moorfields Eye Charity and Clinical Fellowships from NIHR, the Wellcome Trust and MRC. 

Within the institute we want to draw upon the talents of staff and students from all backgrounds and from all over the world. We are committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment for all. As part of this commitment, we are particularly keen to attract women, black and ethnic minority candidates to the institute in all of our roles and strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for a Fellowship to join our institute. All independent fellowship applications including those requiring institute contribution must follow the application process outlined below so the application can be considered by the IoO Fellowship Committee (IoO FC). 


Who should apply

We are interested in hearing from outstanding early career candidates who we can support in their career development at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. 

There are many fellowships available to early career researchers in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Find below a list of organisations offering fellowships. 

Alzheimer’s Research UK
British Heart Foundation
Cancer Research UK
European Research Council
Leverhulme Trust
Moorfields Eye Charity
The Royal Society
UKRI-MRC 
NIHR
Wellcome Trust 
UKRI

If you are interested in applying to any of these independent fellowships, please contact us by following the process outlined below. If the fellowship scheme you would like to apply to isn’t listed above, you are still encouraged to contact us. 


Application process

All independent fellowship applications including those requiring institute contribution must follow the application process outlined below so the application can be considered by the IoO Fellowship Committee (IoO FC). Any candidate not considered by the IoO FC will not be given support for any fellowships at the IoO and there will be no exceptions.

Step 1: At least 6 months before the grant deadline
  • Email the institute's Finance and Research Team (ioo.finance@ucl.ac.uk) to express interest in applying for fellowship funding call(s) at UCL IoO
  • All candidates to submit a CV, a two-page proposal summary, the institute contribution request, and confirm whether they have a mentor/sponsor at the institute
Step 2: At least 4 months before the grant deadline
  • The institute's Fellowship Committee will review applications and shortlist candidates to be recommendeded for support to the institute Director
  • Shortlisted candidates to give a seminar and meet with UCL IoO Principal Investigators (PIs)
Step 3:  At least 3 months before the grant deadline 
  • The institute's Fellowship Committe will review any feedback from the PIs and will make recommendation for support to the institute Director
  • The institute Director will consider recommendation and makes final decision

All independent fellowship application requests for support, including any institutional support, must undergo internal peer review so that we can make a decision on whether or not to support the application. For these fellowships, we invite applicants to submit an expression of interest in time for the IoO Fellowship Committee meetings. 

Next IoO Fellowship Committee meetings

30 March 2023
29 June 2023
28 September 2023
30 November 2023

All expressions of interest should be submitted to ioo.finance@ucl.ac.uk and include ‘NEW FELLOWSHIP’ in the subject line by the relevant institute deadline (six months in advance of the funder deadline) where possible. Applicants should confirm the funding call(s) they wish to apply to, whether they have a mentor/sponsor at IoO and submit the following documents:

1) Academic CV
2) Two-page proposal summary describing:
     i) specific research project 
     ii) why the IoO is an ideal host for the fellowship
     iii) any relationship with IoO's Principal Investigators (PIs)
     iv) specialist needs (e.g. RNA-seq core, electron microscopy etc.)
     v) space requirements including bench space requirements and any large equipment requests
3) IoO contribution request including any financial institutional support for equipment and space requirements (laboratory needs, space for equipment and/or animal work, and office space for any potential group members). 

Decisions to support all applications will be made by the IoO Fellowship Committee and institute Director based upon: budget constraints (some fellowships require significant financial contributions from the institute) and the quality of the applications. If budget is not available or the quality of applications is not sufficiently high, the institute may end up not supporting any candidate in a given call, constructive feedback will be provided to the candidates. The IoO Fellowship Committee will shortlist candidates for potential support. If the applicant does not already have a mentor/sponsor at IoO, we will allocate one.

Shortlisted candidates will give a seminar (either remotely or in person) and meet with IoO PIs.


Profiles of current and past Research Fellows

  • Dr Ryan MacDonald
    I was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship at the Institute of Ophthalmology in 2019. The IoO has been the ideal place for me to start my research programme, as it provides me excellent facilities, mentorship and the exciting opportunity to collaborate with work-leading clinician scientists. I couldn't have picked a better institution to start my independent research career.  
  • Dr Gavin Arno
    I was awarded a Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator award (2017-2020). This fellowship enabled me to establish my own research programme as an independent scientist. From this position I was able to develop my own projects and research ideas, seek additional funding, develop my own collaborations and establish myself as a leading scientist in ophthalmic genomics. I was awarded additional funding during this period to support my salary and extend the fellowship along with project grants to employ a post-doc scientist in my lab. Recently, I have been appointed as senior scientist for genetics at Moorfields Eye Hospital for which the Fight For Sight fellowship was key in securing a permanent position. My research at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology continues with an honorary academic position.““I was awarded a Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator award (2017-2020). This fellowship enabled me to establish my own research programme as an independent scientist. From this position I was able to develop my own projects and research ideas, seek additional funding, develop my own collaborations and establish myself as a leading scientist in ophthalmic genomics. I was awarded additional funding during this period to support my salary and extend the fellowship along with project grants to employ a post-doc scientist in my lab. Recently, I have been appointed as senior scientist for genetics at Moorfields Eye Hospital for which the Fight For Sight fellowship was key in securing a permanent position. My research at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology continues with an honorary academic position.“I was awarded a Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator award (2017-2020). This fellowship enabled me to establish my own research programme as an independent scientist. From this position I was able to develop my own projects and research ideas, seek additional funding, develop my own collaborations and establish myself as a leading scientist in ophthalmic genomics. I was awarded additional funding during this period to support my salary and extend the fellowship along with project grants to employ a post-doc scientist in my lab. Recently, I have been appointed as senior scientist for genetics at Moorfields Eye Hospital for which the Fight For Sight fellowship was key in securing a permanent position. My research at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology continues with an honorary academic position.“I was awarded a Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator award (2017-2020). This fellowship enabled me to establish my own research programme as an independent scientist. From this position I was able to develop my own projects and research ideas, seek additional funding, develop my own collaborations and establish myself as a leading scientist in ophthalmic genomics. I was awarded additional funding during this period to support my salary and extend the fellowship along with project grants to employ a post-doc scientist in my lab. Recently, I have been appointed as senior scientist for genetics at Moorfields Eye Hospital for which the Fight For Sight fellowship was key in securing a permanent position. My research at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology continues with an honorary academic position.
  • Dr Nikolas Pontikos
    I am a senior Research Fellow and a group leader at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. I was recently awarded a £1.3M NIHR AI Award (2022-2025) to develop my project Eye2Gene, an AI decision support system to accelerate the genetic diagnosis of inherited retinal diseases. I was previously supported by a Moorfields Eye Charity Career Development Award fellowship (2019-2021) and a Translational Research Office Therapeutic Innovation Networks grant (2020-2021) to develop an initial prototype of Eye2Gene that was used to secure my large NIHR grant. I am now the chief investigator of the Eye2Gene research project and I lead an international team of 8 researchers working across UCL, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Oxford University Hospital, Liverpool University Hospital and Tokyo Medical Centre. At the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, I also lead an interdisciplinary research group, the Pontikos Lab working on the intersection of genetics, imaging and health informatics and decision support systems for retinal and corneal conditions. Our research group works closely with clinicians at Moorfields Eye Hospital and researchers at the UCL institutes of Health Informatics, Genetics and Healthcare Engineering to deliver clinically focused and cross-disciplinary research.The seed funding from Moorfields Eye Charity and the UCL Translational Office was instrumental in securing my first big nationally competitive grant.
  • Associate Professor Alice Davidson
    I have been supported and mentored by my colleagues at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology to successfully leverage multiple Fellowship opportunities that have been instrumental to research career trajectory. Firstly, I was awarded an Early Career investigator Award from Fight for Sight in 2015 which acted as a springboard for me to begin to develop independence and find a niche for my research ideas. Later, in 2018, I was awarded a Career Development award form Moorfields Eye Charity that provided me with an invaluable opportunity to further strengthen my independent research program, build my relationships with industry and academic partners outside of UCL. This ultimately culminated in me being awarded a UKRI Future Leader Fellowship in 2019 and securing a permanent academic position. 
  • Professor Omar Mahroo
    I was awarded a Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship (Stage 2) in 2017, hosted at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. This allowed me to set up a new research group and embark on a programme of investigations of human retinal function in health and disease, which led to new discoveries, new research directions, and the setting up of local and international collaborations. I was able to secure further grant funding and mentor other clinician and non-clinician scientists in their careers, including fellowship applications. I was promoted to Professor of Retinal Neuroscience in 2021, and the opportunities my fellowship gave me were a major contributing factor 
  • Dr Colin Chu
    I am starting a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship in May 2022 to begin my first independent lab at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology with a clinical appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital. It is supporting staff, equipment and consumables needed over four years and I feel having such a Fellowship will give me the best opportunity to establish myself and succeed as a clinical academic long-term. I secured the Fellowship while an external candidate based at the University of Bristol but was well supported by the leadership and finance team at the IoO to guide me through all the complex paperwork needed! 
  • Associate Professor Anthony Khawaja
     Securing an intermediate fellowship was of huge importance to me as a clinician wanting to continue an ambitious research programme. My UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Award now protects 80% of my time for research - a rare privilege for doctors.  While these fellowships are highly competitive, I benefited from the strong support of my institution, peers and Moorfields Eye Charity. I also particularly love the broad range of researchers in the Future Leaders Fellowship programme; from nuclear fusion to prison gang culture, it is enriching to learn across disciplines from others.
  • Professor Mariya Moosajee
    I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship in late 2016 to span 2017-2022 together with the prestigious Wellcome Beit Prize. This was the key stepping stone to reaching independence both as a Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and as a Principal Investigator at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. This fellowship enabled me to attain a secondment at the Francis Crick Institute, develop various programmes of research and build my international reputation. I strongly believe the research generated during this fellowship was integral to my appointment as Professor of Molecular Ophthalmology in 2020 at UCL. I was very grateful to the senior PIs from the Institute of Ophthalmology who helped to critique my application and held mock interviews for me. A bit of advice, start early and access the great support and expertise around you
  • Professor Pearse Keane
     I’ve been fortunate enough to receive two fellowships. In 2015, I received an NIHR Clinician Scientist award (recently renamed as NIHR Advanced Fellowship). This funded me for 5 years as an honorary consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and as an academic at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. As this funding was coming to an end, I received a short period of bridging funds from Moorfields Eye Charity with their Career Development Award scheme. This allowed me to apply for a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. I was successful with this and began this second fellowship in August 2020. The Future Leaders Fellowship is an amazing scheme: it specifically funds ambitious, adventurous research that is at the boundary between different disciplines, and at the boundary between academia and industry.