HRB/MRCG Joint Funding Scheme

Fighting Blindness Researchers Secure €600,000 Funding Through The HRB/MRCG Joint Funding Scheme

Image of HRB MRCG grant recipients

Pictured at the announcement of HRB/MRCG grant recipients 2014: Avril Daly, Dr Graham Love (HRB), Dr Breandán Kennedy, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, Maria Meehan, Philip Watt (MRCG).


In 2014 Fighting Blindness maintained it’s successful grant application record. We were one of only five Irish medical research charities whose researchers were successful in securing competitive funding, worth €300,000 over the next three years, from the Health Research Board of Ireland (HRB). This grant scheme is jointly operated by the HRB and the Medical Research Charities Group (MRCG) and the value will be matched by Fighting Blindness. In short, this means that €600,000 will be invested into high-level vision research in Ireland over the next three years.

Dr Breandán Kennedy in University College Dublin will be investigating a class of drugs known as neuroprotectants that aim to delay or prevent retinal degeneration. He hopes to find which subtypes of these diseases respond best to this class of drug. Dr Giuliana Silvestri is based in Queen’s University, Belfast and her project will form the basis of an all-Ireland retinal degenerations partnership, including the development of an all-island database for retinal degenerations. This work will significantly boost the efforts of our Target 5000 project.

Health Research Funding

As we are all aware the period of austerity over the last six years has resulted in considerable pressures for our citizens. Difficult choices were and continue to be made at all levels of society. During this period, overall state investment in general research was not cut; however the budget for health research has been significantly affected. Incremental cuts to the health research budget since 2009 are now impacting on the future of patient-led research in Ireland. Charities like Fighting Blindness are deeply disappointed that these cumulative cuts mean that important schemes such as the HRB/MRCG joint funding scheme referred to above will not run in 2015.

Schemes such as this allow organisations like ours the opportunity to fund projects that they would otherwise not be a position to support. They are also imperative for those working in the area of rare genetic conditions where research funding is often difficult to attract but is ultimately of huge benefit to the patient. We are working closely with our colleagues at the MRCG to highlight this growing concern and will endeavour to ensure that medical research is not overlooked and that the pipeline to innovation in the development of  future treatments is given more consideration and support. We must remember that today’s research is tomorrow’s medicine.