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Major funding boost for eye research

Press release issued: 28 September 2011

A University of Bristol Immunology and Ophthalmology research group have become a partner in a specialist National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre with Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) announced last month the allocation of £800 million of government funding to biomedical research centres and units across the UK.

Professor Andrew Dick, University of Bristol Faculty Research Director for Medicine and Dentistry and Head of the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology in the School of Clinical Sciences, played a key role in the application with Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology for a Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for Ophthalmology, which was supported by the award of £26.5 million over five years.

Professor Dick will lead the inflammation and immunotherapeutics theme, one of six major strands in the bid, bringing significant new investment in ophthalmology research to Bristol.  The research group in Bristol will support the other major innovative themes such as gene therapy and ocular imaging.

Professor Dick, speaking about the funding, said: “This is a major funding boost for eye research.  The award will support our endeavours in experimental medicine, creating between the sites an unparalleled platform of both scientific and clinical resource in the field of ocular inflammation.”

The award is significantly higher than was anticipated and followed an application to the Department of Health earlier this summer, which was assessed by an international selection panel.


Further information

Ophthalmology research at the University of Bristol

Bristol is one of the leading eye centres in the country. It has research laboratories in the University of Bristol’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and in the Bristol Eye Hospital, a purpose built modern specialty hospital. The largest national eye bank is based at the hospital.

Ophthalmology research in Bristol is committed to providing a first class environment in which health care, education, clinical and laboratory research can be conducted simultaneously. Research is focussed on the improvement in future health care that relies heavily on the implementation of basic science advances and transfer of laboratory acquired knowledge to the clinic.

The research within the Academic Unit of Ophthalmology is supported by the University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Sciences within the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and also within the infection and immunity theme of the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences.

About the NIHR

1. The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world-class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients.

2. The selection process:
All applicants from NHS and university partnerships were assessed by an independent international selection panel. The funding allocated to each NHS Trust/University partnership has been determined by the scale, nature and quality of the research activity to be conducted in each NIHR Biomedical Research Centre or Unit.

3. NIHR Biomedical Research Centres support research across a wide range of disease areas. These Centres are the most outstanding NHS/University research partnerships in the country; leaders in scientific translation and early adopters of new insights in technologies, techniques and treatments for improving health. To ensure they are able to succeed, the NIHR BRCs will receive substantial levels of sustained funding. NIHR BRC funding supports the NHS infrastructure to create an environment where scientific endeavour can thrive, attracting the foremost talent and producing world-class outputs.

4. The NIHR Biomedical Research Units funding scheme aims to support NHS/University partnerships to undertake internationally excellent translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need, and in which the country has identified research strengths. The scheme enables excellent, but comparatively small research groups at the forefront of their field internationally, to achieve or further develop critical mass. The priority areas for NIHR BRUs are:
• Cardiovascular Disease
• Deafness and Hearing Problems
• Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia)
• Gastrointestinal (including Liver and Pancreatic) Disease
• Musculoskeletal Disease
• Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle (including Obesity)
• Respiratory Disease

Please contact for further information.
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