Moorfields Eye Charity offers 'Career Development Awards' to Moorfields researchers who are looking to be future leaders in their field, to help them focus on their research and get into the strongest possible position to apply for fellowships to catapult them to the next stage of their career.
We asked two current award holders, Dr Nikolas Pontikos (left) and Dr Tessa Dekker (right), what this funding means to them.
You’ve got a year of funding! What are you looking forward to working on in that year?
Nikolas - I am very happy to now be in charge of my exciting research programme and to be able to focus full-time on it. I am most excited about the results of applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to retinal images and to see what is achievable, what I will learn from these and where this will take my research in the future.
Tessa - We’re hoping to find that new methods can help better explain the mechanisms that drive the normal development of vision in children. I’m also planning to use them to look at children with eye disease, to see if these new methods can pick up improvements in vision after intervention or treatment, so they can be used as outcome measures for clinical trials and in hospitals. That would be very cool.
Are there any other perks to this grant, besides the money?
Nikolas – Besides providing protected research time, the grant has given me a boost in motivation and recognition, helped me get principle investigator status at the institute (UCl institute of ophthalmology) and given credibility to my researcher profile and my research plan.
Why should researchers consider applying for one of these grants?
Tessa – I think it’s a really great opportunity. When you’re at the stage in your career where you’re creative and you have your own vision, it’s sometimes not easy to get that translated into a grant. It’s probably one of the most important awards in my entire career, because it will allow me to consolidate my own independent research programme and lab at one of the best places in the world.
One piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking of applying?
Tessa - You need to present yourself and your research programme overall, but also a specific piece of research. It’s quite important to demonstrate that you’ve got an independent vision that you can really contribute something to - that there’s something special about you, and you’re going to make a brilliant addition to the research around ophthalmology.
Nikolas - Go for it! Talk to Moorfields Eye Charity first to find out if your work, project and profile fits their remit, then put in an application. They are very helpful in the whole application process and are very happy to give you feedback.