About CHECT research

Funding world-class research into retinoblastoma is one of the key aims of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

We fund projects that will:

  • Improve our understanding of retinoblastoma, including the patterns of disease
  • Develop kinder effective treatments, with fewer side effects, that preserve more vision
  • Reduce the negative impact on all those affected

Applications must support at least one of the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership Priorities for Children’s Cancer.

CHECT will consider funding any applications that fall within its Research Strategy, and it is expected that the majority of research funded by CHECT will have the potential to demonstrate benefit to those affected by Rb in the UK within the short to medium term, normally considered to be five to ten years from the grant end date. As a UK charity, CHECT welcomes applications from all over the world, but to be considered for funding a project must show benefit for the Rb community in the UK.

While CHECT continues to invite submissions for research proposals exploring the whole field of retinoblastoma research, CHECT’s members have identified particular areas of psychosocial research that are important to them and further detail of these areas is given in the grant invitation which you can download below.

The 2024/25 research funding call is now closed. 

Download grant invitation

Download application form

More information on our research application process

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.


Childhood Eye Cancer Trust Research Strategy.

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:

Professor Bob Phillips (Chair)

I am a Professor of Paediatrics and Director of the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre at the University of York and Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at the Leeds Children’s Hospital (basically a part-time proper doctor and part time researcher) who looks after a range of children and young people with cancers including retinoblastoma.

I’m delighted to be able to chair CHECT’s Scientific Advisory Committee, with its wide range of wisdom and experience in so many types of research which can improve the lives of those with Rb. It’s a privilege to be able to get great research moving forwards.

Dr Dimitra Athanasiou

I am a research associate at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. My main research interests focus on investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases. The understanding of how neurons maintain proteostasis – which is the balance of protein synthesis, folding, traffic and degradation – can provide insight into how we can intervene in the cell stress machinery when proteostasis imbalances are present, a common feature in neurodegeneration. I have been working on mutations causing inherited retinal degeneration and their effect on retinal cell viability for more than ten years. By targeting pathways involved in proteostasis, I have tested different therapeutic approaches for rhodopsin retinitis pigmentosa, which has deepened our understanding on photoreceptor biology in health and disease. I aim to bring my expertise on retinal cell biology research to CHECT’s SAC and help support good quality research on retinoblastoma.

Dr James Wawrzynski

I am an ophthalmologist, currently undertaking a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital. I previously undertook a PhD at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children where I designed and tested a novel gene therapy for paediatric inherited retinal vascular disease and also worked on a first-in-human study of a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of retinal dystrophy resulting from Batten disease. I am currently studying the genetic associations of retinopathy of prematurity and Coats disease, both of which can cause retinal detachment in children.

I am looking forward to using my scientific and ophthalmic training to make a contribution to the CHECT Scientific Advisory Committee.

Dr Audrey Bonaventure

I am a physician specialist in public health and also trained as an epidemiologist. Since 2008, I have developed a particular expertise in several aspects of childhood cancer epidemiology, from exploring survival inequalities to searching for risk (or protective) factors for childhood cancer, including retinoblastoma. 

I currently work as a Researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), within the team dedicated to childhood and adolescent cancers at the Centre of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics. I am also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. I have been teaching epidemiology and supervising international students for many years, both in France and in the UK.

I am deeply honoured to have been asked to join the CHECT SAC, to which I will contribute my experience in public health and epidemiology.

Andrea Bonzano (Deputy Chair)

I am an electronic engineer who works in the financial industry. Originally from Italy, I live in London with my wife and 2 boys who keep asking me when the next CHECT weekend will be!

Although I had known CHECT for several years thanks to their incisive online campaigns, I remained a spectator until January 2015, when I joined the Board of Trustees where I try helping by applying my software and scientific skills.

Since November 2018 I have also become part of the Scientific Advisory Committee as a lay representative. There, I act as the bridge between the SAC and the Board of Trustees. I find both these roles within CHECT extremely interesting and rewarding as the people I meet are always very generous and helpful.

James Morley-Smith

I have spent over 20 years originally as a software engineer and now leading an international design team in a global tech company, creating hardware and software solutions which help frontline workers from retail staff and delivery drivers to doctors and nurses be more efficient and accurate at their jobs.  My work requires me to fully understand the needs of users which regularly requires research to observe and understand every aspect of these users’ jobs.

I am the father of four boys the second youngest of which was diagnosed with Rb when he was four months old.  He is now 12 years old and after receiving almost all the treatment available, by the age of six he unfortunately had lost both his eyes through enucleation.  He is now thriving, however his journey gives me an understanding of the impact of Rb that combined with my work hopefully brings a unique layperson’s perspective to the Scientific Advisory Committee.

Pippa Branch

My daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in March 2018. Before this point, like so many parents I had never heard of Rb. Despite her diagnosis being unilateral Rb, genetic testing has since shown she carries the Rb gene. I hope that with my recent experience as a parent of a child receiving treatment for Rb, that I am able to offer an alternative, non-medical or scientific perspective to the SAC. My interest in research stems from her treatments and the genetic nature of her diagnosis. I was a primary school teacher for 19 years before having my daughter and therefore I hope that this experience will also help to offer an educational insight into discussions about research.

Mr Joe Abbott

I am a paediatric ophthalmologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where I treat many children with retinoblastoma.

My training included fellowship work in Birmingham, Moorfields and Great Ormond Street Hospitals. I lead our hospital’s paediatric glaucoma service and am joint secretary for the UK Paediatric Glaucoma Society.

My active research areas now are in hand-held imaging techniques for children, in particular optical coherence tomography, cell-free DNA sampling in retinoblastoma, paediatric ocular trauma and the impact of social deprivations upon health. I am a section editor for the journal Eye.

I am a father of two girls. I am humbled every week, by the resilience which children and their families show when faced with the diagnosis of retinoblastoma. I will do my best in this role to help the SAC further improve children’s experiences of retinoblastoma.

Dr Cath McParlin

I was born in 1967 with bilateral retinoblastoma into a family who had never heard of the condition before (and long before CHECT ever existed). Luckily the following year I was diagnosed, I had my left eye removed and radiotherapy treatment to my right eye.

After initially completing a degree in Biochemistry and Physiology, I went on to train as a midwife in the early 90’s. I have since worked clinically as a midwife and spent most of the last two decades involved in reproductive health and childbirth research and education, being awarded my PhD in 2015. I’m now involved in the evaluation of maternity care services and also supporting other health and social care researchers plan their studies.

I feel passionately about the conduct of good quality research and how that translates into evidence-based health and social care practice. Therefore, alongside my experiences as an Rb survivor I hope I can make a valuable contribution to the SAC as a lay member.

Dr Catriona Duncan

I am a Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

I trained at Royal Marsden Hospital and in Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick . I am the clinical lead for oncology department at Great Ormond Street and oncology lead for the Retinoblastoma service in London. I developed my interest in retinoblastoma under the tutelage of Dr Judith Kingston and am active member of EURbG (pan-European Rb partnership) as well as SIOP (European Society for Paediatric Oncology) host genome working group and am actively involved in supporting work related to improved outcomes as well as better delivery of care for children with retinoblastoma.