Research Funding Programmes & Application Procedures The purpose of the National Eye Research Centre is the relief of sickness and the promotion of good health for the public benefit by funding and supporting research into the causes and treatment of eye disease and blindness and publishing and disseminating the useful results thereof. The charity believes that prevention is better than cure. The charity is registered with the Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) under registration number 1156134. The charity is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities and seeks to comply with its principles of best practice at all times. The charity funds eye research projects of the highest scientific value in UK universities. The National Eye Research Centre does not receive any government funding. It raises funds from a variety of philanthropic sources, and it publicises the research it supports, what advances are expected and eventually what the patient benefits are likely to be. The charity raises awareness amongst the public about the importance of increased and ongoing support for eye research. The funding objectives of the charity is both strategic and in response to applications received: Strategic funding may be raised for: Developing centres of ophthalmic research excellence (building capacity) across the UK. Special strategic awards (themed ‘calls’) to investigate specific ophthalmic areas of interest. Responsive funding is directed at: Postdoctoral projects PhD studentships Seed funding grants Travel grants Equipment grants Grant Application Process The Trustees of the Charity, acting through the Charity’s appointed officers, invite applications for grants, which are considered by its independent Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) under its Terms of Reference. The purpose of SAC is to advise the Trustees on which applications score highest according their scientific merit and proposed scope of achievement. The Trustees agree new grant awards depending on the funding available at each round of grant making. Grants are awarded in the following categories: Major - £10,000 and larger Seed Funding - under £10,000 Travel – up to £1,500 Equipment – by prior agreement Grant applications (except applications for equipment) are only accepted online. Major grants – In order to spread its research investments as broadly as possible, the charity publishes guidelines on the maximum recommended size and duration of grants likely to be funded. The Trustees will require applicants to justify amounts in excess of these guidelines and reserve the right to reject applications exceeding these guidelines. Currently those guidelines are: Maximum recommended size: £70,000 Maximum recommended duration: three years Assessment process for major grant applications: Applications for major grants may only be made in the course of the charity’s annual grant call, the timings of which are published on the charity’s website. Major grants may take the form either of a significant piece of research by the Principal Investigator or of a PhD studentship or postdoctoral fellowship supervised by the Principal Investigator. The charity will not replace salaries of research staff already funded by their institution. Applicants may not be named on more than one major grant application in any twelve-month period. The charity will look favourably on applications to match fund another funder’s commitment to the project. Major grant applications are considered in a two-stage process in which a concise preliminary application is assessed for suitability by SAC. Grant applicants whose projects successfully pass the first stage are invited to submit a full grant application (second stage). The Trustees reserve the right to decline to fund a research application if they believe another funder to be more appropriate for the research project. This will be explained in any feedback provided. Applications are peer reviewed by a minimum of two external, independent experts in a relevant field of research. SAC reviews the applications taking account of the comments of the peer reviewers and makes funding recommendations to the Board of Trustees. If, despite extensive efforts (e.g. approaching at least four external experts for reviews), external and independent experts cannot be obtained, SAC may, in these exceptional circumstances, peer review the grant internally. The decisions of SAC are final and not open to appeal. Unsuccessful grant applications may not be resubmitted within 18 months of first submission unless expressly invited by SAC to do so. The decision of the Trustees to fund an application is based on the recommendations of SAC and is dependent on their satisfaction that: the application has excellent scientific merit; the application is ethically sound; the application is relevant to National Eye Research Centre’s current research strategy; the charity has adequate funds available. The timing of the annual grant call and subsequent decision and funding milestones are published on the charity’s website The charity will endeavour to give constructive feedback where possible to applicants whose projects have been declined. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide feedback to those applicants whose projects failed to pass first stage. Seed funding grants - are directed at eye research projects with a total cost less than £10,000; they are not equipment grants but may contain small items of equipment necessary for the delivery of the project provided these are fully detailed in the grant application. Applications must be made online and are considered quarterly. Seed funding grant applications are reviewed, as a minimum, by the Chairman of SAC and recommended to the Board of Trustees for approval. Decisions are generally confirmed within six weeks of application Travel grants - are offered to cover travel, accommodation and registration costs in connection with a National Eye Research Centre funded project where the applicant is presenting National Eye Research Centre funded data. Travel grants are capped at £1,500 per application and limited to one application per delegate per project. Subsequent travel grant applications for the same project will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances. Applications must be made online. Applications for travel grants are considered quarterly. If the annual travel grant budget has been consumed the website will show that the grant stream has been closed. Decisions are generally confirmed within six weeks of application. Equipment grants - may be offered for the purchase of equipment to be used in ophthalmological research where it can be shown why primary funders, such as the NHS or University, will not fund the purchase. Funding is considered after discussion with the applicant and is generally subject to a dedicated appeal raising the necessary funds. Applications for grants to fund equipment in support of eye research may be made at any time. Equipment grants will normally be subject to the charity agreeing to initiate a special fundraising plan to secure the necessary funding. Therefore, purchase of the equipment will be delayed until funding has been secured. Decisions are generally confirmed within six weeks of application. Reporting Requirements It is a condition of accepting a grant that applicants agree to submit annual and final project reports. These are circulated to the members of SAC and the Board of Trustees each spring in order to review the progress and outcomes from each project and their potential for patient benefit. Grant payments will not be made until the appropriate annual or final report has been submitted to a satisfactory standard. Medical Principles The Trustees wish to promote high quality eye research which embraces new ideas, takes advantage of new technologies and makes best use of funds and encourages ‘new money’. The Trustees seek to fund high quality basic research and technological advances to improve conditions of the eye in health and in disease and to sustain optical performance in disease processes and subsequent to surgical intervention. The charity does not generally focus on any eye condition, but from time to time may wish to do so. As a national charity it seeks a national spread of funded research. The charity will only fund research which is ethically sound. The charity supports AMRC’s position statement on the acceptable use of animals in research, where there is no alternative and where there is a clear link between the research and advancing the understanding of disease, preventing disease or developing potential treatments. The charity funds medical and social research. The charity does not fund social care or medical interventions for private individuals with eye disease or visual impairments.