UCL receives £5 million grant for Oriel

The funding will support closer collaboration between researchers and clinicians

Oriel Entrance

An independent grant-making charity, The Wolfson Foundation, has awarded £5 million to University College London (UCL) for Oriel, a new integrated centre for eye care, research and education.

Oriel is a joint initiative between the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Moorfields Eye Charity, that will bring eye care services and research into a purpose-built facility.

The £5 million grant will help to increase the speed of research breakthroughs, UCL said, bringing researchers and clinicians together under one roof.

Announcing the grant, Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be funding a dedicated innovation space at the heart of the new building, designed to foster close collaboration between different teams of scientists.”

He commented that bringing clinicians and researchers together at Oriel would create a platform to generate “further breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of eye disease.”

The new integrated building will support closer collaboration between researchers, clinicians, educators and innovators across disciplines.

A new flexible learning space will help practitioners stay at the “cutting edge” of new technologies, UCL revealed. It would also support future clinical practitioners, and the next generation of innovation.

Professor Alan Thompson, dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: “We are delighted that the Wolfson Foundation has made this award to Oriel. At the new centre, researchers will work alongside doctors and patients, for the benefit of patients.”

“Barriers will be eradicated and collaboration will be part of day-to-day working life. Students will be able to more closely observe and experience clinical settings, and greater patient involvement in research projects will be made possible,” he continued.

Oriel was granted final NHS and government approvals at the end of 2022.

Construction of the new centre is expected to begin this year.

UCL president and provost, Dr Michael Spence, acknowledged that researchers from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, in partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital and Moorfields Eye Charity have achieved “ground-breaking” developments, but that “the current set up across buildings at two separate sites means that we cannot realise the full transformational power of the partnership.”

“Oriel will change that,” Spence said, adding that the Wolfson Foundation grant will “unleash this untapped potential, leading to new and quicker discoveries and treatments that will improve eye health at a global scale.”