UCL Council approves £44.5M for new eye research centre

14 Dec 2021 | Network Updates | Update from University College London
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UCL Council has given conditional approval for the purpose-built, integrated eye-care centre that maintains our world-leading position and will have a real impact for patients nationally and internationally.

The decision will allow the allocation of £44.5m of UCL funding, conditional on securing additional sources of funding, towards Oriel, a joint initiative between UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Moorfields), and Moorfields Eye Charity.

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: This is a great achievement, and the next step in developing a transformative centre for advanced eye health. Oriel will deliver world-leading eye care for patients, the best education for students, and research for the benefit of the whole population.”

Oriel will bring patient-centred eye care, cutting-edge research and exemplary education under one roof and, by harnessing the expertise of the partners in a state-of-the-art building, benefit patients, academics and health professionals, and the wider health system. By increasing the interaction between patients, clinicians and researchers it will reduce the time taken to implement new treatments and therapies and increase the number of patients taking part in clinical trials, stimulating improvements in people’s sight.

Professor Andrew Dick, Director of the Institute of Ophthalmology, added: “Oriel is an exciting partnership between UCL, Moorfields, and Moorfields Eye Charity that will deepen the existing relationship between the partners. The unique collaboration of scientists investigating vision working alongside doctors, nurses, and patients will help to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into new therapies for patients.”

Dr Martin Kuper, Chief Executive of Moorfields commented: “This decision is a fantastic step forward for our joint project. This new integrated clinical and academic centre will be a world first and we are working closely with patients, staff, students, Camden Council, and members of the local community to ensure the centre is a fabulous asset for the people it serves.”

The new location will be near other important health and research institutes such as UCLH, Wellcome, and the Francis Crick Institute, making Oriel part of an emerging scientific hub in Camden’s Knowledge Quarter. It will also promote greater collaborative joint working between the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields, and the rest of UCL.

The proposed new centre received a £30 million grant from Research England’s flagship UK Research Partnership Investment Fund in 2019. Camden Council passed a resolution to grant planning permission earlier this year.

Robert Dufton, Chief Executive of Moorfields Eye Charity commented: “It is an exciting time for the partners in developing this new centre which will enable world-leading clinical care, research and education in eye health. We are grateful for the generous and ongoing support of donors to the joint Oriel fundraising campaign who are helping to make our plans come to life.”

It is planned that new building will be completed in 2026.

This article was first published on 10 December by UCL.

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