Our supporter Miss Zakarian’s vision to support pioneering research for future generations

01 March 23

written by:

Press Office

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Early career awards granted by Fight for Sight in partnership with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists

Fight for Sight is partnering with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) to enable clinicians to gain vital research experience.

These early career awards will help clinicians to take their sight-saving work to the next level.

The RCOphth Fight for Sight Zakarian Awards are named after the late Miss Zakarian, who generously left Fight for Sight a legacy to help the charity support pioneering researchers. Awards are given to members of RCOphth to provide them with dedicated research time.

The award offers £25,000, jointly supported by Fight for Sight and the RCOphth. The award is tenable for one year.


In the award’s first year, we had two successful candidates.

Dr Abdus Samad Ansari

Dr Abdus Samad Ansari is an Academic Clinical Fellow at King’s College, London. Dr Ansari is investigating the role of mitochondrial dysfunction and healthy ageing within the eye.

Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells, creating their energy. Their disruption, through depletion or variation in function, is thought to be involved in a person’s susceptibility to developing glaucoma.

Utilising the TwinsUK cohort (the UK’s largest twins registry), Dr Ansari will be one of the first to examine mitochondrial dysfunction in a healthy population over time. Dr Ansari will study identical and non-identical healthy twin pairs and test how mitochondrial function is related to age-related changes in the body.

Read more about eye conditions in our A to Z

Dr Ansari's work will help establish which factors influence the onset of glaucoma and related neuro-degenerative conditions such as memory loss.

Understanding mitochondrial dysfunction’s consequences could increase knowledge about how they affect glaucoma and multi-morbidities, including dementia. There is potential to identify new biomarkers that may assist with treating and monitoring disease, build awareness of the events leading to disease and help identify those at greatest risk much earlier.

Read more about our research into sight loss linked to other diseases

Dr Tasanee Braithwaite

Dr Tasanee Braithwaite is a consultant ophthalmologist at the Medical Eye Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and an honorary senior lecturer at King’s College, London.

Dr Braithwaite is working in a multi-centre collaboration, involving groups from the University of Exeter, University Hospitals Birmingham, University College London, and the University of Liverpool. She aims to expand on her preliminary findings about genetic and other factors that help to identify people’s risk of autoimmune disease following initial presentation with inflammatory eye conditions.

This knowledge could enable those presenting with inflammatory eye conditions to better understand their future risk of autoimmune disease, access more timely medical care and make lifestyle changes thought to delay, prevent, or lessen disease severity.

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