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UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Annual Review 2019-2020 is out

We are very pleased to have launched the IoO Annual Review, covering some of the outstanding work we achieved in the 2019-2020 academic year.

From IoO Director, Professor Andrew Dick:

The unexpected challenges we all have faced in recent months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted everyone’s life. They have also uncovered opportunities and areas for development and expansion. At the IoO, together with our Faculty and the rest of UCL, we worked tirelessly this year to ensure we could continue our teaching and research activities to the best of our capacity.

We established an executive COVID response team with our Deputy Directors and representatives of academic and operational staff, meeting weekly to respond to needs and make decisions swiftly as we drew up plans for a phased re-opening of our building. Many key workers committed to maintaining our facilities so we could be fit for purpose on our return. We introduced a regular weekly communication in the form of a weekly bulletin reaching nearly 700 in all staff, students and partners at the institute. We adapted remarkably well to virtual meetings, managing to maintain activity and connectedness. We expanded our virtual seminars and symposia facilities to increase our networking and give staff and students the opportunity to share their work and interests. Education was a beacon of our activity this year as we launched new courses and brought opportunities for engagement in online course development.

We received over £8 million in research grants, and we were one of a few institutes within UCL to reopen at limited capacity in July to drive our research work forward and get ready for the new academic term. Our student numbers have grown massively compared to 2018-2019, and our international partnerships continue to bloom. We had a great round of promotions, appointing, among others, four new non-clinical lecturers. Studies and papers from our research work were covered by the national and the international media.

We established and consolidated important professional collaborations and strategic partnerships: with Santen, Singapore Eye Research Institute (Seri), and the International Centre for Translational Eye Research (ICTER). The number of IoO Principal Investigators (PIs) holding UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships is now three, and we are looking forward to the appointment of the inaugural Moorfields Eye Charity Chair in Advanced Ocular Imaging, partnered with UCL Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering and UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering.

This year we were awarded Gold for both Green Impact office award and LEAF Awards for sustainable laboratories, at UCL’s 2020 Sustainability Awards. Having quickly adapted to the virtual learning environment, we were able to deliver a successful annual lecture, attracting more than 100 participants. In order to recognise the high quality of academic, teaching and collegiality activities at the institute, we held our annual IoO day virtually, and announced the winners of this year’s awards. To support our staff during a challenging period following the pandemic, we adapted our core hours-based system for meetings, and launched a Mental Health hub on the IoO Intranet to make it easier for people to find contacts and resources.

Our core values remain at the heart of what we do. This time of change has afforded us opportunities to learn and to shape the way we interact for the better, in order for our research portfolio to continue to carry a high level of impact, and for our teaching to maintain its high standards. This next year promises to be just as remarkable as we welcome more students than ever before to the IoO. Going forward we will continue to strive for a fair institute, working with Faculty to better support staff and students. This Annual Review highlights some of the magnificent work we achieved in the 2019-2020 academic year.

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