Guidance for applicants

How the charity funds research

The Macular Society operates response mode funding and has an annual grants round inviting applications for research grants and PhD studentships. It will consider applications for clinical or laboratory-based research projects aimed at improving the treatment or quality of life of patients with macular disease.

Projects must be able to demonstrate potential benefit to people with any form of macular disease including AMD and macular dystrophies. This may include research into causes and prevention, early detection, treatments or improving the quality of life. For more information, see our Research Strategy 2020-2030.

The Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership set priorities for eye research in 2013 in 12 different areas.

Setting Priorities for Eye Research – Final Report (PDF)

One of the areas was AMD where 10 priorities were identified. All applicants who are invited to submit full applications are asked to specify, if applicable, which of the priorities their application addresses and how. This is then taken into account by the Research Committee when appraising the applications. 

The Macular Society is a National Institute of Health Research non-commercial portfolio partner and a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).

Research Grants

Grants of up to £250,000 over three years are available for research at UK institutions only. Projects can be for the maximum amount for a shorter period (e.g. 2 years), as long as the project is judged to be good value for money.

We will consider applications for clinical or laboratory based research projects aimed at improving the treatment or quality of life of patients with any form of macular disease.

PhD Studentships

Studentships of up to £100,000 are available to cover a stipend, fees and consumables over 3 years. PhD Students should be based at a UK institution and be a UK graduate in a relevant subject.

The scientific merit of the research project, its suitability as a PhD project and the research and training environment provided by the host department are all taken into account when assessing the applications.

PhD studentships can focus on any of the following:

  • basic research
  • epidemiology
  • clinical research
  • gene therapy
  • stem cells
  • visual rehabilitation
  • new technology
  • Eligible costs

For both research grants and studentships, eligible project costs may include:

  • capital items (items over £2,500 require three written quotations once a grant is awarded)
  • staff costs
  • relevant consumables
  • travel and communications – please justify any international travel costs
  • administrative support
  • computing costs
  • open access publication

As a charity, we only support the directly incurred costs of research.

Ad hoc funding requests

The Society does not accept ad hoc requests for funding.
Applications will only be considered within the context of the annual research grants round and within the deadlines set for receipt of applications.

Research Committee

The Research Committee includes 2 Trustees and 7 external representatives with relevant expertise. It meets twice a year having assessed, scored and ranked preliminary and then full applications for research grants and PhD studentships. Between meetings members receive updates and provide advice by e-mail. They also receive interim and final reports from all funded projects. 

The application process

The Macular Society runs a two stage application process for both research grants and PhD Studentships.

Stage one – preliminary application stage

Preliminary application forms are reviewed and shortlisted by the Research Committee. Successful applicants are invited to complete a full application.

Stage two – full application stage

Full applications are sent for peer review to expert external reviewers. The Research Committee meet to consider the full application and peer review feedback. A final funding decision is made by the Board of Trustees.

The Research Committee considers applications against the following criteria:

  • scientific quality
  • innovation
  • potential benefit to people with macular disease
  • relevance to Macular Society members (mainly patients), taking into account the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership priorities for AMD research
  • value for money
  • quality of proposed student training (PhD studentships only)

Peer review

It is important that the extent of peer review is in proportion to the amount of funding to be awarded.

Grants worth less than £5,000 must be reviewed by the Chair of the Research Committee.

Grants worth between £5,000 and £25,000 per annum must be reviewed by the Committee.

At least two external reviewers should be employed for all research grants worth over £25,000 per annum.

Terms and conditions

All successful applicants will be asked to sign and return a copy of our terms and conditions, which includes the following information.

  • Use of funds
  • Disbursement of funds
  • Reports
  • Presentation of reports
  • Funded extensions and no cost extensions
  • Monitoring
  • Capital items
  • Project modification
  • Under-expenditure or over-expenditure
  • Balance funds
  • Cancellation
  • Indemnification
  • Remittance and receipt of grant funds
  • Dispute settlement

Where ethical approval is required, a copy of the approval letter must be received by the Macular Society before any funds are paid to the researcher.