Research

CHECT photo - retinoblastoma research

About CHECT research

Research is vital part of the fight against retinoblastoma. Our aim is to support world class research that will improve our understanding of Rb as well as clinical research into effective treatments and reducing the negative impact on those affected.

While the annual grant round provides the main stream of CHECT funding for research, we may from time to time decide to award further grants or consider applications outside of this round. We will also consider proposals to co-fund projects in partnership with other funding bodies. In these circumstances appropriate peer review process will be applied. We are a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). All AMRC members support the AMRC position statement on the use of animals in research.

Have a look at retinoblastoma research projects currently underway, as well as past research.

Apply for CHECT funding

Our grant funding is allocated to research teams based in the UK and abroad, attached to recognised academic or medical institutions. The number of grants and funds available varies from year to year and is published on our website annually from February. In 2015, 50% of proposals received were deemed eligible for funding by our  Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). CHECT was able to offer funding to 17% of applicants in this financial year.

Applications for funding must be submitted to the SAC on our standard form and sent both electronically to petra.maxwell@chect.org.uk and in hard copy with original signatures to our office, for the attention of the Chair Oliver Comyn.

The SAC considers all applications for research funding against an agreed matrix.

Scientific Advisory Committee

While the CHECT trustees are ultimately responsible for the research strategy and grant awarding of the charity, a CHECT Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) exists to assist the CHECT trustees in these responsibilities. The committee members are:

Dr Oliver Comyn (Chair)

I am a trustee of CHECT and currently Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. Professionally, I have been training in ophthalmology since 2006 and am currently undertaking a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at the Sussex Eye Hospital prior to seeking a consultant appointment in the next couple of years.

Between 2010 and 2013 I undertook a research fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology. I was awarded the degree MD (Res) by UCL after submission of a thesis entitled “Clinical outcomes of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor inhibition in diabetic retinopathy”. I have experience of the design, initiation and recruitment of randomised clinical trials and have authored or co-authored a number of peer-reviewed publications.

I am therefore familiar with research structures in the NHS, understand the process from clinical trial design through to publication, and have insights into the difficulties involved in conducting clinical research. In chairing the SAC I aim to bring this experience to the committee and utilise the expertise of the multi-disciplinary professionals and lay people from the Rb community to ensure that CHECT selects projects of the highest quality, that carry the best chance of improving treatment for Rb patients now and in the future.

Dr Tassos Georgiadis

I am a senior research associate at UCL/Institute of Ophthalmology. I have been working in gene therapy research for more than a decade particularly on viral gene therapy for the treatment of retinal degeneration. During my PhD I focused on virally-mediated RNA interference in the retina and I am currently concentrating on optimising AAV clinical trial vectors for treating patients with inherited retinal disorders such as Leber congenital amaurosis and achromatopsia.

I am also studying the miRNA transcriptome in the retina as well as the use of AAV or lentiviral vectors as RNA interference mediators for allele-specific and allele non-specific knockdown of dominant gene mutations causing retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. I aim to bring my specialty in molecular genetic research and translation of pre-clinical studies to the committee to aid in the selection of promising and innovative projects by CHECT that will ameliorate the treatments and living standards of patients with Rb.

Mr Manoj Parulekar

I am a paediatric ophthalmologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, one of the two national treatment centres for retinoblastoma. I work as part of a multidisciplinary retinoblastoma team, and also have a wider paediatric ophthalmology practice, with special interest in reconstructive surgery following enucleation, and radiotherapy.

I contribute to an active research programme, both basic science as well as clinical, and contribute to several learned bodies including the International RB Staging Committee. I hope to bring this experience to my role of assisting the SAC and trustees to achieve CHECT’s research goals.

Iain Riddell

Iain joined the SAC as a lay member in 2015. A PhD student researching nineteenth century UK social politics, Iain has previously worked on community leadership and faith-based social action in Wolverhampton and Telford. Over the last four years he has been based in Gloucester focused on developing the Voice of Disabled People through leadership skills in Gloucestershire and studying for an MA in History with the Open University. Having had Rb as a child, Iain is now an active member of the Beyond Rb adult survivors group.

Dr Richard Scott

Dr Scott attended medical school at Cambridge University and University College London before training in Paediatrics and subsequently Clinical Genetics in London. During his training in Clinical Genetics he studied for a PhD in Clinical and Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Cancer Research / Royal Marsden Hospital. His thesis was titled ‘Genetic and epigenetic analyses of the 11p15 growth regulatory region in Wilms tumour’.

He is now a Consultant in Clinical Genetics at Great Ormond Street Hospital and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Clinical and Molecular Genetics Unit at the Institute of Child Health. His principal areas of interest are clinical dysmorphology, complex childhood genetic disorders and the translation of new genetic technologies into clinical practice.

Dr Jed Stevenson

I am a medical anthropologist with research interests in child development across cultures. My work centres on Africa – especially Ethiopia and Congo – and much of it is carried out in collaboration with charities promoting community health. I am currently teaching fellow in Medical Anthropology at University College London, and adjunct assistant professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University (USA). I also have experience of raising a child with retinoblastoma, and am a trustee of CHECT.

Charles Stiller

I am an epidemiologist and currently Lead on Childhood Cancer with the National Cancer Intelligence Network, Public Health England. I was previously for many years Senior Research Fellow and Director of the National Registry of Childhood Tumours in the Childhood Cancer Research Group at the University of Oxford, where I was the editor and principal author of Childhood Cancer in Britain: Incidence, Survival, Mortality (OUP 2007).

My work on retinoblastoma has included participation in national studies of incidence, treatment and survival during 1963-2002 and of non-ocular tumours in patients originally treated since 1951, and a report on supraregional referral of children with retinoblastoma, liver tumours and bone tumours. I am an editor of International Incidence of Childhood Cancer, Volume 3, which will include the latest information on retinoblastoma incidence worldwide. I bring to the SAC extensive experience of planning and carrying out epidemiological research on childhood cancer.

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