Moorfields Eye Charity funds a range of world-leading eye research - in recent years we've supported cutting-edge developments in applying AI to eye care, a pioneering study exploring a new laser-based treatment for glaucoma and the world-leading 'London Project to cure blindness', to name just a few.
But we don't just invest in the leaders of today. We also believe it's critical to support and invest in the leaders of tomorrow. That's why we've funded 21 PhD studentships since 2015 with over £1.5 million, helping to create the next generation of researchers whose energy, dedication and innovation will drive new and exciting advancements in eye care in the years to come.
We're immensely proud of all the PhD students we fund, so we wanted to share some of their stories with you.
Harley is building his expertise in stem cells and the potential to use them to treat patients. He chose to apply himself to eye health as he believes that eyesight is incredibly important, but that we can take it for granted!
He's working to figure out why some patients reject corneal stem cell transplants and the role their immune system might play in the process. He's hoping that a better understanding of why and how rejection happens could help us grow stem cells that are less likely to be rejected when transplanted, leading to better outcomes for patients.
I believe that stem cell therapies and personalised medicine are going to be an enormous part of medical treatments in the future, so remaining a part of this field as it grows, and the chance to potentially develop a new cutting edge therapy for patients is an exciting prospect.
Mahtab's PhD is based in UCL's Child Vision Lab. She's looking to better understand the way that children see the world. To do so, she's developing new, child-friendly vision tests that give researchers and clinicians a clearer picture of how a child's vision is developing. She needs to make her tests fun and engaging for the kids, but also accurate and useful for the person administering them!
Mahtab hopes that a better understanding of how vision develops in children - and better tools to measure it - will help clinicians provide their young patients with better care, and help researchers develop new treatments to prevent sight loss in children.
One of the benefits of doing my PhD at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is their access to cutting edge technologies, advanced treatments, unique patient groups and the world’s largest paediatric eye-care centre - the Richard Desmond Children's Eye Centre.
Vijay has a clinical background - he's a trained Orthoptist and still works in the clinic alongside completing his PhD. He's investigating the way we view and make sense of a cluttered, or 'crowded', world.
It's harder for us to pick out objects like letters when they're surrounded by other things and 'crowded', rather than isolated on their own. Vijay wants to know whether this 'crowding' could be responsible for some of the sight loss experienced by patients with Nystagmus, a condition where the eyes move around involuntarily.
It's sometimes difficult to restore normal vision to patients with Nystagmus, even if doctors can stop their eyes moving beyond their control, but Vijay's hoping that his work could help explain why and open the door to new research into better ways to treat these patients.
Undertaking a PhD has been interesting; it has definitely moved me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop new skills. I would like to thank all the supporters of Moorifelds Eye Charity for their donations and support. Without them, we would not be able to develop new researchers and further investigate different eye conditions.
Our current round of PhD funding is now open to applications, so if you've got a future in ophthalmic research and would like to take your career to the next level, or are in need of a PhD student in your lab, then consider applying today.