23 November 2022

The College's Research Excellence Awards recognise outstanding work in vision and optometric science

The College of Optometrists recognised the achievements of new and established researchers at its Diploma Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster in London on Tuesday 15 November.

Due to the pandemic, this was the first College Diploma Ceremony, which welcomes the new members of the profession into membership of their professional body, held since 2019, and so previous award recipients were also recognised. Eleven College Research Excellence Awards were presented at this year’s ceremony:

  • Professor Bernard Gilmartin FCOptom was awarded The President’s Research Medal 2022, the College’s most prestigious award, in recognition of his career-long contribution to the understanding of the aetiology, progression, and management of myopia, together with his pioneering work to establish optometry as an evidence-based profession.   
  • Professor Shahina Pardhan MCOptom received The Arthur Bennett Prize 2021 for her research into the global visual impact of diabetic retinopathy on eye health and vision, and how vision loss affects navigation through environments. This biennial prize is awarded every two years for outstanding research undertaken anywhere in the world. 
  • The George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize recognises excellence in PhD or Masters research projects. The 2021 prize was awarded to Dr Neema Ghorbani Mojarrad MCOptom for research into the genetics of myopia and the practical application of such insights for profiling and the targeting of interventions to manage myopia. The 2022 prize was awarded to Dr Victoria Stapley MCOptom for research uncovering changes in ocular structure and function in myopia, as well as novel methods to evaluate their relationship.
  • The Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award recognises the author/s of a highly regarded paper published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics (OPO), the College’s internationally recognised research journal, within the past five years. The 2021 award recognises Dr Ranjay Chakraborty and his co-authors colleagues, Dr Lisa A Ostrin, Dr Debora L Nickla, Dr P Michael Iuvone, Dr Machelle T Pardue and Dr Richard A Stone for their paper, Circadian rhythms, refractive development and myopia, published in 2018. The 2022 award recognises Thomas Heesterbeek, Laura Lorés-Motta, Professor Carel B Hoyng, Yara T E Lechateur, and Professor Anneke I den Hollander for their paper, Risk factors for progression of age-related macular degeneration.
  • The Philip Cole Prize for practice-based research is awarded to College members demonstrating excellence in practice-based research.  The 2021 prize was awarded to Patrick Gunn MCOptom, for research into new community schemes for eye health, and increasing the accessibility of eye care services in the UK. The 2022 prize was awarded to Dr Rosalind Creer MCOptom for her research into cross-hospital collaboration in investigating optometrists’ extended scope of practice in neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
  • The Neil Charman Medal for Research is awarded to a College member who has undertaken outstanding research. The 2021 medal was awarded to Dr Michael Crossland MCOptom for patient-centred research into low vision, telerehabilitation and the accessibility of care. The 2022 medal was awarded to Dr Sara McCullough MCOptom for research into distinct classes of refractive development leading to the identification of predictive factors for myopia.
  • Professor Nicola Logan MCOptom received The Giles Van Colle Memorial Award 2021 (awarded in conjunction with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation) for her work on the clinical trials for the development of interventions for myopia. This is awarded every two years for outstanding research or clinical case work relating to paediatric optometry.  

Professor Leon Davies FCOptom, President of The College of Optometrists, said: ‘Evidence-based research is the cornerstone of the optometric profession, not only guiding current practice and clinical decision-making, but also advancing the profession - enabling us to achieve our vision of optometrists at the forefront of better eye health and vision for all. 

‘The College's Research Excellence Awards recognise the outstanding, often ground-breaking, work of talented and committed individuals working in the fields of optometry, optics and vision science and we hope that their achievements will encourage others to follow in their footsteps for the benefit of their careers, their profession and their patients.’

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Dr Aleksandra Mankowska MCOptom, Dr Sara McCullough MCOptom, Dr Victoria Stapley MCOptom, Thomas Heesterbeek, Patrick Gunn MCOptom and Dr Creer MCOptom

The College held a morning and afternoon ceremony to ensure that the achievements of pre-registration students who overcame the challenges of the pandemic to qualify in 2020 could be celebrated. More than 600 newly qualified optometrists were welcomed to the profession at the ceremonies, which also recognised those achieving Higher Qualifications, Fellowships by Portfolio, and Life and Honorary Fellowships. 

Find out more

Related further reading

Clinical case studies can make a small but important contribution to the sum of clinical knowledge. Why do we need them, asks Kim Thomas, and how do you write one?

The clinical figures that count - Autumn 2022.

Eye health issues that are making the news - Autumn 2022.