Translational Research Award

Our Translational Research Award is now closed.

 Funding decisions for the current grant round will be finalised in May 2024.

We are looking to fund a number of Awards in this grant round, and will prioritise those projects which offer the greatest impact for patients in the shortest timeframe.

Award Amount

The standard maximum value of each Award is £250,000.

If your project requires more than £250,000, please get in touch with our grants team by emailing to discuss your requirements before applying. We can advise you as to whether you would be eligible for a larger grant under this funding scheme.

Award Duration

The standard maximum time period for grants under this Award is 24 months. 

If your project requires more than 24 months, please email our grants team ( before applying to check if your application would be eligible for your requested duration.

    • The Translational Research Award supports research projects with a clearly defined pathway to achieving patient benefit.
    • The goal is to help to accelerate the translation of scientific findings to the early stages of development of new therapies, devices, and diagnostics. 
    • Applications to the Translational Research Award must already have proof of concept preliminary data.
    • We welcome projects that have robust commercial potential, likely to attract large scale follow-on funding from other charitable, statutory or industry funders.
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    Am I eligible to apply?

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    In order to apply for any of our funding schemes:

    • Applicants must be UK based university researchers, or NHS based clinicians and clinical researchers, or allied healthcare professionals.
    • We accept applications for projects that will be carried out across multiple institutions, but the funding will be awarded to the lead applicant’s host institution.
    • The lead applicant’s contract of employment must cover the full duration of the proposed project.

    What makes a project eligible for the award?

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    Eligible projects must:

    • Be based on unmet clinical need.
    • Aim to generate lead candidates for therapeutic applications.
    • Be relevant to and highly promising in the clinical setting (these are not early stage, exploratory or proof of concept studies, instead they have already shown that the idea might be used as therapy in man).
    • Have clear pre-clinical proof of concept to be eligible. Applications without preliminary data available to support the concept will not be progressed.
    • Be focused on assessing properties such as potency, efficacy, selectivity, or bioavailability of compounds identified by previous research as potentially strong candidates for therapeutic applications.
    • Have a clear pathway to apply for funding such as the MRC Confidence in Concept, MRC Development Pathway Funding Scheme type funding and other similar funding schemes.
    • Have a clearly defined translation to ophthalmic patient benefit. Exploratory research, even in a patient setting, will not be considered.

    For an example of a project that is at an appropriate TRL for this funding scheme, and has received funding in a previous grant round, click here.

    What can I apply for?

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    Applications can include:

    • Developing candidate therapeutic entities, such as potential new drugs.
    • Pre-clinical testing of novel therapeutic entities (e.g. potential new drugs and devices).
    • “Repurposing” clinical studies – using existing therapies for new indications in eye diseases.
    • Developing and testing novel devices.
    • Developing and testing diagnostics (including biomarker validation).
    • All research should strengthen confidence that a target or therapeutic approach will be applicable to vision conditions.

    What does the award pay for?

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    The grant can be used flexibly to meet several types of expenditure:

    • Salary contributions on this grant are typically envisaged for staff appointed with the sole purpose of working on the proposed project (such as Research Assistants or other postdoctoral, contract staff). Please note that the grant is not intended for PhD students.
    • Salary costs can be allocated to more than one staff member (e.g. Research Assistant) who may be working part time on the proposed project and other concomitant projects in the same or another host institution. This may be the case for interdisciplinary projects.
    • Please note that salary contributions are not to be used to supplement or replace salary funding for core staff provided by HEFCE or the NHS. Full salary cost justifications are required in your application. Please ask us if in doubt before submitting your application.  
    • Salary costs of core funded staff are only covered (pro rata) in the exceptional circumstances that their time needs to be "bought out" partially or in full from other duties such as teaching or clinical work to allow them to dedicate time to directly carrying out the proposed project (i.e. directly carrying out laboratory work, conducting field work, etc.). 
    • Project consumables.
    • Any other direct costs of the translational projects, such as a contribution towards equipment solely needed for the proposed research project.
    • The cost of outsourcing project work to contract research organisations which provide specific input on a fee-for-service basis. Appropriate justification should be provided in your application, and contractors will have no potential claim over any arising IP.

    Does the award pay for indirect costs?

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    No, it doesn't. Our funding can only pay for the direct costs of the project. 

    However, because Sight Research UK is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities, grant holders can apply for indirect costs from other sources, depending on the nature of the research undertaken:

    What projects are not eligible for the award?

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    The Translational Research Award is not for:

    • Fundamental or basic research into the causes of eye conditions.
    • Disease modelling research.
    • Exploratory research (e.g. screening libraries for biological targets)
    • Projects with no clear pathway to a defined ophthalmic patient benefit.
    • Projects without pre-clinical proof of concept preliminary data.
    • PhD studentships.
    • Salaries of staff between posts/funding (i.e. as “bridging” funds).
    • General consumables.
    • General support for a research group.
    • The development of software.
    • The development of non-therapeutic or non-diagnostic devices.
    • Innovations developed in non-ocular settings with no proof of concept for ocular application.

    What is the application assessment process?

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    Applications are assessed in two stages:

    • Stage 1: Applications are a brief expression of interest outlining the proposed project. These are assessed by relevant members of our independent Research Advisory Board depending on their expertise. Successful applicants are invited to submit a full Stage 2 application within five weeks of the Stage 1 deadline.
    • Stage 2: Following notification of Stage 1 outcome, applicants have 6 weeks to submit their Stage 2 application.
    • External peer review: Applications are assessed by up to four external peer reviewers per application. These are relevant experts drawn from the fields of translational research, clinical research, clinical practice, and industry and are selected to match their expertise to the proposed project. We will do whatever possible to avoid bias either for or against the applicant and/or the host institution. Applicants are invited to suggest names of peer reviewers from whom we should not seek a review.  External peer reviewers have 4 weeks to return their reviews.
    • Rebuttal: Applicants have the opportunity for rebuttal following receipt of external peer reviews. Any rebuttal must be received within ten working days of request from the Sight Research UK Grants Team.
    • Research Advisory Board meeting: All external peer reviews and applicants’ rebuttals are sent to the Research Advisory Board at least three weeks prior to their meeting. Research Advisory Board members are asked to prepare for their meeting by pre-scoring all applications to facilitate discussion on the day. All Stage 2 applications are considered at the same Research Advisory Board meeting.
    • Trustees Board meeting: The Chair of the Research Advisory Board attends the Sight Research UK Board of Trustees meeting to report the advice on funding recommendations from the Research Advisory Board. The Trustees make their grant-making decisions based on the expert advice and on the financial capacity of the organisation at that time. Occasionally, the Trustees will offer to undertake proactive fundraising for projects that, although judged fundable by the Research Advisory Board, exceed the financial capacity of the organisation.
    • Feedback: Following the Board of Trustees’ decision, the Grants Team provides feedback to all applicants, whether successful or unsuccessful. Wherever helpful, we share the views of the Research Advisory Board and of the external peer reviewers who reviewed the applications. Grant Award contracts are issued to all successful candidates and the Grants Team liaises with the award holders throughout the life of the award.

    For all enquiries about our research funding, please contact or call 0117 325 7757.