Fight for Sight awards eleven new research projects into sight loss
Fight for Sight and its partners have awarded funding to progress novel research ideas with the potential to help improve the lives of people affected by sight loss. The funding will help early career researchers to advance exciting, early-stage science, ideally to a stage where it can attract more investment for further development.
Fight for Sight and its partners have awarded funding to progress novel research ideas with the potential to help improve the lives of people affected by sight loss.
The funding will help early career researchers to advance exciting, early-stage science, ideally to a stage where it can attract more investment for further development.
Grants of up to £15,000 have been awarded to clinicians and research scientists across the UK to conduct stand-alone research projects for up to 12 months. The funding will enable them to carry out small feasibility and pilot studies to generate preliminary data to support applications for larger follow-on funding.
The new projects include research into a variety of sight loss conditions that can impact patients’ quality of life. They are:
The Fight for Sight Small Grant Award:
- Dr James Whiteford of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is developing a new experimental model of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which could help pave the way to the development of effective new treatments to slow down or stop sight loss in patients.
- Professor Susan Downes at the University of Oxford is laying the groundwork for a new genetic test that could help predict a person’s susceptibility to sight loss caused by the long-term use of an anti-malarial drug used to treat joint and skin conditions.
- Dr Matteo Rizzi of UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is developing a new experimental model of ‘dry’ AMD that could help shed new light on the biology of this sight loss condition that currently has no effective treatments.
- Dr Sergio Bertazzo of University College London (UCL) is identifying calcification factors in the outer blood-retina barrier. This information could help develop intervention strategies before irreversible changes occur in the advanced stages of AMD.
The Fight for Sight / BIOS Small Grant Award:
- Dr Lauren Hepworth at the University of Liverpool is adapting a cognitive screening test for stroke survivors to improve its accessibility for those experiencing visual difficulties and help ensure future care decisions are appropriate to their needs.
The Fight for Sight / Esme’s Umbrella Small Grant Award:
- Dr Tamsin Callaghan at City, University London is exploring the impact of educational tools and self-management strategies on the quality of life of patients with Charles Bonnet Syndrome who are experiencing visual hallucinations.
The Fight for Sight / Nystagmus Network Small Grant Award:
- Dr Mahesh Joshi at the University of Plymouth is carrying out a pilot study to investigate whether a new computer-based treatment approach can help improve vision for people with nystagmus.
- Dr Mervyn Thomas at the University of Leicester is developing a new experimental model that could pave the way for the development of new treatments that can help improve vision for children with nystagmus.
The Fight for Sight / Glaucoma UK Small Grant Award:
- Dr Ameenat (Lola) Solebo of University College London is carrying out a pilot study that could ultimately lead to a new imaging-based test to help personalise treatment for children at an increased risk of secondary glaucoma.
- Dr Ester Reina-Torres of Imperial College London is investigating the potential of an innovative new approach to treating glaucoma, which involves transplanting cells into the eye that have been engineered to produce a molecule called nitric oxide.
- Dr Julie Albon of Cardiff University is developing a novel cutting-edge technique to investigate how specific cell types within the human optic nerve head (ONH) – the site where nerve fibres exit the eye and join the optic nerve – may contribute to this abnormal healing process.
Dr Madina Kara, Director of Research and Innovation at Fight for Sight, said: “We’re delighted to support such a wide variety of innovative research ideas, from researchers across the UK, which have huge potential to transform the lives of people with sight loss.
Partnering with Glaucoma UK, BIOS, Nystagmus Network and Esme’s Umbrella has enabled us to fund even more projects – widening opportunities to make life-changing discoveries for patients with different conditions that cause sight loss.
We are also hugely grateful to our supporters whose generosity enables us to continue to support our ground-breaking research that could ultimately lead to effective new ways to stop, slow down or reverse sight loss – dramatically improving the quality of life for patients and their families.”
Kerry Hanna, Lecturer in Orthoptics, postdoctoral researcher and Director of Research for BIOS, said: “BIOS is delighted to announce our second joint Fight for Sight / BIOS co-funded Small Grant Award. The Award is up to £15,000 over one year. This is a significant sum that could fund equipment, specific research training, research staff or time, or specialist services. It is designed as a stepping-stone to a research career in core orthoptic topics, or for small-scale projects with potential for further development into larger applications to bodies such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).”
Judith Potts, Founder of Esme’s Umbrella, said: “Prior to becoming a Charity, which will make full partnerships for future research, Esme’s Umbrella was launched as a Campaign in 2015. This fund was for grants in Charles Bonnet Syndrome research, which was won by Dr Tamsin Callaghan at City University London for her proposed study on 'The Impact of Educational Tools on Hallucinations in Charles Bonnet Syndrome'. These Small Grant Awards can be extremely beneficial to researchers, allowing them to discover the small acorns from which large oak trees will grow.”
Vivien Jones, Hon President of the Nystagmus Network and Chair of the Research Committee, said: “We are delighted to announce with our partners Fight for Sight our support for these exciting research projects. The work by Dr Mahesh Joshi and Asma Zahidi at Plymouth will hopefully significantly enhance knowledge about eye movements and, in the case of Dr Mervyn Thomas at Leicester, lead to an enhanced ability to test treatments for infantile nystagmus.”
Glaucoma UK said: “Funding for research is a vital aspect of our work at Glaucoma UK as we strive to bring an end to preventable sight loss from glaucoma. We are delighted that our partnership with Fight for Sight has enabled us to support exciting projects led by Dr Ameenat Solebo, Dr Ester Reina-Torres, and Dr Julie Albon and look forward to the learnings and insights their studies will provide.”
If you’re a researcher, you can find out more about our Small Grant Awards and how to apply to future funding calls here.