BCPB Research Strategy

1        Introduction

The British Council for Prevention of Blindness was established in 1976 as a registered charity to fund scientific research into blindness prevention and sight restoration. We specialise in providing seed funding for projects that have the potential to lead to improved treatments for, and better ways of preventing, the diseases that cause blindness, both in the UK and overseas.  Our vision is to be widely recognised as a significant contributor to the prevention of blindness worldwide, by funding medical research and related training in prevention of blindness and healthcare delivery.

We are part of VISION 2020: THE RIGHT TO SIGHT – a worldwide effort initiated by the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. The programme brings together parties and organisations involved in combating blindness to work in a focused and co-ordinated way to achieve the common goal of eliminating preventable and treatable blindness.

2        What we fund

Our funded research focuses on the potential to make breakthroughs in understanding and treating currently incurable eye diseases, and on operational research to improve best practice and delivery of eye care services.  We only award funding to universities and hospitals in the UK.

  • Fellowships leading to the award of PhD or MD over 2 or 3 years – either for UK based fellows to carry out research in a developing country, or students from developing countries who come to the UK to carry out research.
  • Research grants – over one or two years.  These are available to clinicians, scientists or epidemiologists to develop their research ideas and generate pilot data to facilitate a future application for a substantial grant and to provide funding for a non-clinical PhD or DrPH studentship.
  • Research Mentorship Awards – over one year.  The purpose of these awards is to build research capacity in low-income countries, give priority to applications from countries selected in ‘VISION 2020: The Right to Sight’ as having approximately three ophthalmologists per million population or fewer, to foster research and training links between low-income country institutions (hospitals/universities) and UK universities/NHS Trusts in order to build research capacity.
  • Boulter Fellowships – We support the training of a small number of applicants who come to the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to study for an MSc in Public Health for Eye Care. This course equips them with the skills and knowledge they will need to plan and implement national and regional blindness prevention programmes.

3        Research Outcomes

Boulter Fellowships, BCPB Fellowships, Research Grants and Research Mentorship Awards will contribute to VISION 2020 objectives, and specifically:

  • Produce advances in knowledge and understanding of diseases which cause blindness and methods of detection, referral, diagnosis, treatment etc, leading to improved methods of prevention, treatment, and delivery of eye care services.
  • Build up the eye care human resources capacity of developing countries.
  • Help developing counties to become self-sustaining in eye care human resources by enabling them to establish centres of excellence which will train more eye care professionals and give them a rewarding career structure, leading to improved retention of trained personnel.
  • Contribute to making quality eye care accessible to all people living in developing countries, regardless of location or income.

4        Advisory Panel and Annual Grant Round

BCPB fellowships, research grants and research mentorship awards are advertised once a year.  Our Advisory Panel meets to scrutinise applications and make recommendations to the trustees, who then decide on funding.  The Panel comprises leading scientific authorities in global blindness, and its main purpose is to establish independently the scientific merit of applicants’ proposals including the long term public benefit arising from the work.

Boulter Fellowship candidates are recommended annually by the International Centre for Eye Health, and approved by trustees.

5        Information for Applicants

Guidelines, terms & conditions and application forms are published on our website in April each year and the deadline for applications is in October.