Tuesday, 5 March 2024
Tuesday, 5 March 2024

£5m to support world-leading research facilities in new eye health centre

THE Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust has awarded £5 million to UCL in partnership with Moorfields Eye Charity and Moorfields Eye Hospital to support Oriel – a centre for advancing eye health, opening in 2027. The gift will fund an investigation centre that will enable the acceleration of vital research, bringing treatments to patients faster than ever before.

The £5 million investment in the Sir Jules Thorn Investigation Centre within the new state-of-the-art building will create unrivalled opportunities to advance our understanding and treatment of eye diseases.

Oriel is a joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital (Moorfields), the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Charity with services moving from their current premises near Old Street to a site in London’s ‘Knowledge Quarter’ – one of the highest densities of knowledge-based, cultural and scientific organisations anywhere in the world. The new centre, located in Camden, will enhance research collaboration into eye disease by bringing treatment, research and education under one roof.

The world-leading research facilities supported by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust will be at the heart of the new building and enable an expansion of translational research – research which directly benefits patients. The new research facilities will bring together fundamental and translational research and clinical trial facilities, new imaging and visual assessment technology, as well as access to patients with a diversity of eye conditions not found anywhere else in the world.

The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust’s generous gift, the first to Oriel, was made to mark the Trust’s 50th anniversary and will provide opportunities for deeper collaboration between researchers, clinicians, patients and educators. This will enable the translation of research breakthroughs faster and on a larger scale saving people’s sight not just in the UK but across the globe. Aligned with the work that will be carried out in Oriel’s new innovation hub, the funding will also help further existing world-leading artificial intelligence (AI) research carried out by UCL and Moorfields that can detect early signs of diseases in the eye, such as dementia, multiple sclerosis and some cancers.

Philanthropy is critical to achieving our ambitions to transform the lives of countless people with sight loss, and the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust is a long-standing supporter of eye health research at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL.

Richard Benson, Director of the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust said:

“We’re delighted to support research in this new integrated centre for eye health. We hope that the new translational research facilities will contribute to scientific breakthroughs which will rapidly lead to faster diagnostics, and to new therapies for patients in the UK and across the world.”

UCL President and Provost Dr Michael Spence said:

“I am very grateful to the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust for their generous support to advance research through these state-of-the-art facilities. The use of advanced imaging, together with an unrivalled informatics platform to target specific clinical cohorts, will facilitate our execution of smaller, faster, more stratified clinical trials with higher chances of success.”

Robert Dufton, chief executive, of Moorfields Eye Charity said:

“Thank you so much to the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust for their generous gift to

£5m to support world-leading research facilities in new eye health centre
Oriel exterior view – architectural impression.

support research facilities in Oriel. This investment in research will be enhanced by Moorfields’ access to a very large patient population with eye conditions that range from the very rare to the common, and affecting people of all ages. It will help bring new treatments to the people who need them.”

Moorfields Eye Charity and UCL are working in partnership on a fundraising campaign to support Oriel. Philanthropy has a vital role in securing the future of eye health on a global scale.

Oriel was granted final NHS and government approvals at the end of 2022, and the contract to build the centre was awarded to contractors Bouygues UK in February 2023. Construction on Oriel is underway, with the new centre due to open in 2027.

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