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UOA 12B - Allied Health Professions and Studies: Optometry

University of Bradford

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

Overview

The current RAE period has witnessed a substantial improvement in all research indicators within Optometry at Bradford. These include marked increases in research income, research spend, postgraduate student numbers, PhD completions and externally funded postdoctoral researchers. We have maintained a high level of quality output in leading peer-reviewed journals, and the vast majority of outputs cited are the result of work conducted at Bradford. This level of performance gives the relatively young research team a very real sense of achievement and provides a solid platform for the ongoing success of vision research in future years.

A critical evaluation of our 2001 Research Strategy (RA5 page 7, RAE2001 document) reveals the following achievements:

  • Continued published output in academic journals of the highest quality
  • Significant additional funding from prestigious sources
  • Substantially increased level of postgraduate and postdoctoral activity
  • The introduction of additional methods of studying brain function to complement our existing methodology
  • The development of an internationally recognised interdisciplinary vision and mobility laboratory

Optometry has successfully developed its international research profile whilst situated within the School of Life Sciences. This includes a cluster of cognate research areas focussing on human health and wellbeing, set alongside a portfolio of Allied Health professional courses (Optometry, Pharmacy, Biomedical Sciences, Forensic Science). Significant restructuring within the School has led to the introduction of five research focus groups, each led by a Director, and overseen by an Associate Dean for Research and Innovation. These five groups are Cancer Therapeutics, Medical Biosciences, Pharmaceutical Innovation, Vision Science and Archaeological Science. The current submission reflects the activity of the Vision Science research focus group.

 

Research Outputs

All outputs represent original refereed journal articles, with no duplication. The average impact factor is 3.23 (median 3.47). The outputs reflect the high quality of our work, with publications in some of the world's leading interdisciplinary scientific journals (Current Biology, Journal of Physiology, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B) in addition to the world's best subject-specific journals (Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Journal of Vision, Journal of the Optical Society of America A, Vision Research).

 

Research environment

Research Students and Research Studentships

During the period all indicators have improved:

  • A 3-fold increase in the number of doctoral degrees awarded compared to RAE2001
  • An increase in FTE research students currently registered
  • Whereas the majority of research students in 2001 were self-funded, 80% are now externally funded through charitable and industrial income
  • A total of ten postdoctoral research assistants (0.64/FTE, in comparison to 0.26/FTE previously)

Research Income

All indicators have improved dramatically:

  • Research spend almost £20K per staff member per year – three times the research spend in RAE2001
  • Research Council spend of almost £700K (previously £32K)
  • RA4 highlights the 28% year-on-year increase in research spend during the period

 

 

Research Structure

Contained within the submission are 16 mainly early and mid-career researchers:

Professors

David Elliott (Professor of Clinical Vision Science); Bill Douthwaite (Professor of Optometry); David Whitaker (Professor of Vision Science)

Reader

Brendan Barrett (Reader in Vision Science)

Senior Lecturers

Marina Bloj; Mike Cox; David Keeble; Ed Mallen; Declan McKeefry

Lecturers

Catharine Chisholm; James Heron; William McIlhagga; Ian Pacey; Paul Rodway; Andrew Scally; Srimant Tripathy 

Our academic staff are supported by the following researchers:

Postdoctoral Researchers: Mark Burton; Graham Chapman; Matt Cufflin; Karen Hampson; Glen Harding; Graeme Kennedy; Keith May; Alexa Ruppertsberg; Chara Vakrou; Marta Vianya.

Honorary Visiting Staff: Professor Julie Harris (University of St Andrews); Dr Jan Kremers (University of Tübingen, Germany); Professor Paul McGraw (University of Nottingham); Professor Haluk Ogmen (University of Houston); Associate Professor Konrad Pesudovs (Flinders University, Australia); Professor Vince Walsh (University College London).

 

Our research activity is not divided explicitly into research groups, but may be considered under two broad themes:

Visual Neuroscience

The Visual Neuroscience group uses non-invasive methods in order to understand the spatial and temporal properties of human visual processing and the neural mechanisms which underpin this behaviour. Its principal technique is psychophysics, through which the responses of human observers to well-controlled sensory stimuli can be quantified. The group seeks to investigate vision in the context of sensory neuroscience in general, and its aim is to further our understanding of human brain function.

Whitaker and Barrett investigate the mechanisms contributing to the perception of spatial position, ie where things are in the world around us. They have enjoyed particular success in establishing how motion can affect our perception of position (Current Biology x2). Their work is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust. Bloj utilises real-world scenes and top-end display and rendering technology to compare physical measurements of the lighting environment with observer perception (or misperception), particularly in the realm of colour and material appearance. This has considerable cross-disciplinary relevance to lighting engineering and computer graphics, and has resulted in substantial grant support from the EPSRC (x3). Bloj has ongoing collaborations with Prof Brainard (University of Pennsylvania, USA) that have resulted in two publications as well as being PI on two EPSRC-funded projects, one with the Digital Lab at the Warwick Manufacturing Group and the other with the Computer Science Department at the University of East Anglia.  Keeble and McIlhagga utilise traditional methods of psychophysics to further our understanding of human spatial vision, including texture perception and human signal detection. McIlhagga has developed an alternative model for contrast discrimination which explains masking effects using retinal light adaptation and central multiplicative noise. Keeble continues to publish work across a range of psychophysical areas including texture perception, spatial localization, motion perception and illusory contours. He has maintained international collaborations with researchers at CNRS in France, and NTT in Japan. The work of both Keeble and McIlhagga has been supported by the EPSRC. Tripathy also investigates spatio-temporal mechanisms of vision and their interaction with attention and memory, by establishing (with Barrett) how human observers track multiple moving objects. McKeefry specialises in human colour vision, and has published widely across a range of the world's best vision journals, in addition to multidisciplinary work (with Whitaker) establishing the physiological basis of colour perception in human vision (Journal of Physiology).

The fundamental psychophysical work of the group has been complemented by the recent addition of equipment and postdoctoral support funded by the BBSRC. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is used by McKeefry and Barrett in order to transiently and strategically disrupt activity within specific parts of the human brain and investigate how this affects visual perception. Another advance comes in the form of a new multisensory laboratory in which sensory perception across vision, hearing and touch can be measured. Whitaker, Heron and Rodway work towards advancing our understanding of the interactions between the human senses, both across space and time. 

Support: EPSRC (5 awards), BBSRC (2 awards), Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, College of Optometrists 

Output: Full papers appear in international journals including Current Biology, Journal of Physiology, Journal of Vision, Proceedings of the Royal Society B

 

Optics and Ageing

The Optics and Ageing group seeks to advance our understanding of the processes involved in developmental and senescent changes of the human visual system. The group utilises a unique combination of methods in support of its efforts, including corneal topography, dynamic ocular wavefront aberration measurements and human mobility analysis. Their research places particular emphasis on the introduction of improved optical correction or strategic modes of intervention that will impact on quality of life.

Elliott's published contributions to the world's leading vision journal (Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science) reach double figures within the period. His work concentrates upon the clinical aspects of visual ageing, particularly in the areas of cataract, quality of life and the visual contribution to the occurrence of falls in the elderly. The research team, including Scally, operates within a specialised vision and mobility laboratory, and has received extensive support from grant-awarding agencies such as the Department of Health and healthcare charities. One of Elliott's research team (John Buckley) has recently been awarded a 5-year RCUK Fellowship within the Department of Medical Engineering at Bradford, which will allow an extension of the vision and mobility research across Schools. The main focus of Scally's research is in the statistical analysis of data, particularly the application of random effects regression models appropriate to the repeated measures type of data typically acquired in mobility research studies. The team collaborates closely with other disciplines within the University, including both the Medical Engineering Research Team and Rehabilitation Studies, as well as with other labs in the UK (including the 5* Research Institutes for Human Movement Sciences at Birmingham, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan Universities) and worldwide (Waterloo, Canada; Purdue, USA). At the other end of the age spectrum, Pacey and Barrett have succeeded in advancing our understanding of the developmental visual deficits associated with human amblyopia (Neuroscientist, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science).

We have a longstanding record of quality research into the optics of the human eye, which has been further developed in the current RAE period. Douthwaite's work is concerned with the optics of the anterior eye in terms of corneal asphericity, alongside clinical studies which predict visual function in the presence of cataract. Cox and Mallen have a strong track record in quantifying the higher-order aberrations of the human eye. This work is supported by the EPSRC and has resulted in a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor which has facility for the dynamic measurement of higher-order ocular aberrations in human eyes. This binocular, continuous recording instrument was designed and constructed at Bradford and is (to our knowledge) the only one of its kind in the world. An Adaptive Optics facility employs a two-channel system to measure and correct aberrations separately, allowing Mallen to develop his research into the role of aberration dynamics in accommodation control and refractive error development. Chisholm, an early career researcher, shares an interest in optical limitations of the eye, in relation to occupational visual performance measures. She brings with her valuable experience of collaboration with government departments and industry.

Support: EPSRC (2 awards), Department of Health (2 awards), The Health Foundation (2 awards), College of Optometrists (3 awards), Vicon Motion Systems

Output: Full papers appear in international journals including Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Ophthalmology, Optics Letters, Journal of the Optical Society of America A, Neuroscientist

Further information about our research activity can be found at http://www.brad.ac.uk/visionresearch

 

Promoting Research

All academic staff belong to the Vision Science Research Focus Group (Directed by Barrett) which monitors and promotes research and is responsible through the Dean for allocation of resources. Through this group a Postgraduate co-ordinator  (McKeefry) oversees the recruitment, induction and progression of postgraduate research students. The Director for research is involved in recruitment to all academic posts, ensuring that the continuation of a strong research culture is placed at the core of all new appointments. Research is also a critical element in the Career Development Plans of new staff and in consideration for promotion. Research activity is closely monitored through the annual completion of an Individual Research Monitoring form detailing grant applications, publications, grant success and indicators of esteem. Schemes are in place to encourage and reward research achievements. For example, finances are assigned to staff on the basis of published outputs and research grant income, thereby rewarding staff and allowing them to attend research conferences and purchase small items of equipment. New staff are assigned a more experienced member of staff as their Mentor, in order to guide them in all aspects of their work, including research. Similarly, staff who are new to research student supervision will first be assigned as co-supervisor alongside a more experienced supervisor. Staff development in all aspects of academic life, including research, is guided by annual performance review with the Head of Optometry.

Research activity is stimulated by weekly seminars. These may take the form of talks by external speakers, or seminars given either by staff or postgraduate students. As part of their research training, all postgraduate students are required to give an update on their research progress in the form of a presentation to the Department on an annual basis. In addition, towards the end of their first year, they are required to deliver a critique of a paper in their area of research. The audience is provided with a copy of the paper a few days beforehand in order to familiarise themselves with the work and to stimulate a lively debate. These measures have helped to develop a vibrant, research-based atmosphere and ensure that all academic staff , postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students are committed to research.

We foster the interest of our undergraduate students in research through our Summer Research Placement Scheme that allows between 4 and 8 first and second year undergraduates to spend 8 weeks during the summer carrying out a research project alongside a member of staff. This scheme has received funding from The Wellcome Trust, The Nuffield Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust and the College of Optometrists. Two of our current PhD students benefited from the scheme, and in some cases the summer work has led to publications and conference presentations (e.g. Cufflin, Mankowska and Mallen, IOVS, 2007).

Research students are initially registered for the degree of MPhil, and only transfer to PhD after submitting a written report which they defend in a viva examination. Finance for one international conference presentation is provided for all postgraduate students, in addition to national conference support - we view this as an integral part of research training. Postgraduate students are further developed through the training programmes delivered by the University Graduate School. This dedicated facility provides a high-profile training environment covering all the essential areas of postgraduate research, including health and safety, literature searching, research methodology, communication skills, thesis construction and preparation for the viva voce examination. 

The School of Life Sciences provides support for the Vision Science Research Focus Group. A dedicated School Research Office provides secretarial and administrative support for the group Director as well as the Postgraduate co-ordinator. Specialised research support, such as advice on research grant submission, is provided by the University Research Office, which is staffed by ex-academics who have significant expertise in the grant submission process. The School of Life Sciences Research Committee receives documentation from all research focus groups, including Vision Science, in support of strategic planning, quality assurance and the promotion of collaboration within the School.

 

Clinical and Interdisciplinary Research

During the period we have made a significant contribution to advancing international understanding of clinical practice. This extends beyond our own profession into medicine, with at least 10 papers in the world’s leading ophthalmology journal, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. The Department has conveyed its clinical research findings to professional practice through Continuing Education and Training events, as well as through leading international clinical textbooks informed by staff research interests (Douthwaite's 2006 Optics of Contact Lenses and Elliott's 2003 and 2007 Clinical Procedures in Primary Eye Care). Staff have also authored book chapters in several of the standard clinical Optometry texts, including Bennett & Rabetts Clinical Visual Optics (2007, Mallen) and Benjamin's Borish's Clinical Refraction (2007, Elliott). In addition, staff have disseminated their research knowledge to optometric clinicians through numerous articles in professional magazines such as Optician and Optometry Today. Research visibility has gone beyond the optometric profession to Nursing falls groups, multi-disciplinary care workers, patient groups (See Hear programme, National Falls awareness Day conference) and the general public (Royal Institution of Great Britain, National Science Week). 

We have a strong record in translational vision research - the application of 'blue skies' investigations to address clinical problems. Chisholm has developed a mesopic vision tester which is used by the UK Civil Aviation Authority to screen all applicants who have undergone laser refractive surgery. Her research has also led to a change within the Home Office in vision standards for police recruits in the UK, and for firearms officers in Northern Ireland. Scally provides statistical expertise and research advice for NHS Trusts and a variety of health and social care settings, particularly in relation to research ethics. Elliott's Quality of life Impact of Refractive Correction (QIRC) Rasch-based questionnaire is to become the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved measurement for quality of life outcomes after refractive surgery. It will also be used in a major outcome study looking at refractive outcomes in terms of quality of life and satisfaction by the FDA, National Eye Institute and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Elliott's work on biomechanics has led to the identification of ophthalmic interventions and safe locomotive strategies to reduce the risk of falling in the elderly. This has led to an update of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines regarding treatment and prevention of falls. Bloj's expertise in human visual perception underpins her current industrial collaboration with Brightside (part of the DOLBY group) and has led to the development of one of the few High Dynamics Range visual displays available in Europe. Her team carried out the first assessment of this type of display for vision research and developed a framework that allows the display to be used with standard (non-high dynamic range) images. The results of this applied work have been published in interdisciplinary journals (Visual Computer and Journal of Visual Communication and Image Representation).

An interdisciplinary flavour extends throughout our research, encompassing Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Sensory Neuroscience, Computer Graphics, Psychology and Human Physiology. It is important to highlight that this has been achieved not through the introduction of research groups peripheral to the discipline of optometry, but from within a talented cohort of research active staff based within optometry.

Our aim to extend our research across interdisciplinary boundaries has been rewarded with almost £0.5 million from the Department of Health to train clinicians to the level of PhD. We currently have an orthoptist and a physiotherapist developing their research skills within this programme (Department of Health Allied Health Professions Researcher Development Award).

 

Infrastructure

We have made considerable investment in research infrastructure during the period, with the firm strategy that initial investment will pay dividends through ongoing research grant success. 

A mobility and vision laboratory is based in Optometry and forms the hub for collaboration across the University with Medical Engineering, Rehabilitation Studies and the Institute for Health Research. It has succeeded in providing doctoral training to graduates from Optometry, Medical Engineering, Physiotherapy and Psychology. The objective of the laboratory is to understand what, where and how different aspects of visual (and other sensory) information is used to regulate locomotion and posture in various environments and ambient conditions. For example:

  • how correctable visual impairment such as refractive blur and cataract effects balance control and movement strategy during stair negotiation.
  • how multifocal spectacle use effects gait over obstacles and/or during transition to a new level.
  • how the removal of binocular vision affects movement planning and control.
  • what peripheral versus central cues are used to plan and control movement.

The Adaptive Optics Laboratory has facility for the dynamic measurement and correction of higher-order ocular aberrations in human eyes. This unique, custom-built system is currently being used to investigate the role of ocular aberrations in the control of accommodation and the development of refractive error, particularly in relation to nearwork, and funding has been secured for ongoing research in this area (EPSRC). 

We have also attracted funds for a laboratory investigating the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation of the human brain which complements the existing strength in human visual neuroscience through non-invasive psychophysical methods. The laboratory contains a CMS30P electrode positioning system in conjunction with Brainvoyager software, enabling co-registration of structural and functional MRI scans with the participants' heads. This allows for accurate placement of stimulation over specific brain areas, and can be visualised in real time. 

A comprehensive programme of Estate improvement throughout the School has resulted in a quality environment in terms of corridor, office and laboratory space. Postgraduate students each have their own PC, and share a large suite of offices conducive to scientific interaction and self-support. The Department has its own seminar room which is also used for daytime social gatherings of staff and postgraduate students.

 

Staffing Policy

In accordance with our staffing predictions made in RAE2001, the strategy of retaining a relatively young staff and developing them from within has paid dividends, and has meant that our staffing profile has not been affected by attrition through retirement. Since early in the RAE period, we have managed to resist significant poaching of staff through the development of a research environment that is both stimulating and supportive. Younger staff in particular are supported by aligning them with established staff thereby providing them with support for research equipment, postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The longer-term view is to allow them to become self-supporting through their own external grants within a relatively short time period. Several outstanding examples of the success of such a policy can be highlighted (Bloj, Barrett, Mallen, McKeefry). Staff success has received appropriate rewards in the form of internal promotion (e.g. Elliott promoted to Professor of Clinical Vision Science; Douthwaite promoted to Professor of Optometry; Barrett promoted to Reader in Vision Science).

The Department has a very favourable ratio of externally-funded Research Assistants to Academic Staff (0.64:1). Not only does this help to support the academic staff in their research, it ensures a vibrant research culture and bodes well for the appointment of future academic staff. 

A relatively small number of staff have left the University during the period in order to take up prestigious promoted positions elsewhere. Winn was part of the Optics and Ageing research group investigating oculomotor control, an area of research which has been successfully continued by Mallen. Winn is now Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hull. Strang, from the same research group, left to take a Readership at Glasgow Caledonian University. A prime example of our success in growing the leading researchers of the future is given by McGraw who held a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship in the Department. He left to take up a Readership, and subsequently a Personal Chair at the University of Nottingham. He continues his longstanding collaboration with Whitaker, who acted as his sponsor throughout his successive Wellcome Trust awards. Pierscionek, a Senior Research Fellow supported by the BBSRC, left to take a Chair at the University of Ulster.

We have an active group of visiting staff who have helped contribute to our success. Vince Walsh is an Honorary Visiting Professor who is currently the head of the Visual Cognition Group within the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. He has published widely in the area of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and has co-authored work in the high-impact journal Current Biology with Barrett. Alongside Barrett and McKeefry he has contributed significantly to the development of the TMS laboratory at Bradford, leading to its success in attracting funding from the BBSRC, and its current place as one of the few laboratories combining TMS with visual psychophysics. Haluk Ogmen is Chairman of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Director of the Centre for Neuro-Engineering and Cognitive Sciences in Houston. He works closely with Tripathy, through collaborative visits and co-supervision of research students. Julie Harris is an HVP, EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow and Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews. She is a leading expert in binocular vision and eye movements, particularly the role they play in the perception of shape and depth as well as the control of action in 3-D space. Ongoing work with Pacey and Keeble examines stereo dot cloud depth perception and the coding of distributed properties while collaboration with Bloj investigates the role of pattern on size perception. Jan Kremers is currently Professor of Experimental Ophthalmology at the University of Erlangen, Germany. He collaborates with McKeefry in the study of peripheral colour vision in the human retina, using ERG to examine the nature of cone inputs to retinal ganglion cells. In addition to reciprocal laboratory visits, they have made joint European grant applications. Konrad Pesudovs was a postdoctoral research assistant at Bradford early in the RAE period. He has now been appointed as an Honorary Visiting Senior Research Fellow and is currently Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the NH&MRC Centre for Clinical Eye Research at Flinders University in Australia. He continues to collaborate with Elliott through publication, reciprocal visits, co-supervision of research students and co-editing of special journal issues (Optometry & Vision Science). 

 

Esteem Indicators 

Members of the Department have a growing volume of peer esteem:

Academic Journal Editorial Contributions

Academic staff have made significant contributions to the Editorial organisation of several research journals. Since 2003, Whitaker has been Section Editor for the international journal Vision Research. He is also an Associate Editor of the leading UK Optometry journal Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics. During the period, Elliott has acted as Editorial Board Member of the leading international Optometry journal Optometry and Vision Science. He has also acted as Feature Editor for two special issues of Optometry and Vision Science, one relating to 'Vision and the Ageing Eye' the other to 'Vision and Quality of Life'. Elliott is also an Editorial Board Member of Clinical and Experimental Optometry. McKeefry and Barrett are members of the Editorial Board for the online Open Ophthalmology Journal.

Conference Organisation and Awards

Elliott was invited to give a Plenary Lecture at the American Academy Annual Meeting 2007. Bloj gave a Keynote Address at the 10th International Colour Association Meeting in 2005 (Granada, Spain), and an invited talk at the Light and Vision workshop organised as part of the European Conference on Visual Perception 2007 (Arezzo, Italy). She has served on the technical and organising committees of the Third European Conference on Colour in Graphics, Imaging and Vision (2005, UK) and the 3rd (2006, Boston USA) and 4th (2007, Tubingen Germany) Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualisation meeting. Whitaker delivered the Conference Keynote Address at the British Congress of Optometry and Vision Science at Cambridge in 2002. He was also organiser for the same conference held at Bradford in 2005. Elliott was invited to act as Moderator for the American Academy of Optometry in 2004. Barrett gave the Keynote address at the British Congress of Optometry and Vision Science in 2005. Cox was an International Organising Committee member for the 3rd European Meeting in Physiological Optics in 2006. Tripathy was invited to organise a symposium at the European Conference on Visual Perception, St Petersburg, Russia, in September 2006. In addition, the same year he presented at a special workshop on Multiple Tracking at the Vision Sciences Society, Florida.

Staff have also been invited to talk at numerous conferences both national and international. Some highlights include The Royal Institution of Great Britain, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (Elliott), Rank Prize Funds conference on 'The Probabilistic Brain', Cambridge (Tripathy).

Tripathy has been appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Houston.

The Department has hosted the following conferences in vision research:

2005 - British Congress of Optometry and Vision Science

2006 - The Annual Conference of the Applied Vision Association

2007 - The Annual Conference of the Applied Vision Association

Medals and Prizes

Postgraduate research students from the Department have received the Ruskell Medal (formerly the Master's prize) from the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers on three occasions within the period:

Vijay Anand (2002) - supervisor Elliott

Marta Vianya (2004) - supervisors Elliott and Douthwaite

Chara Vakrou (2006) - supervisor Whitaker

One of Barrett's PhD students (Aine Rice) has been awarded the Giles van Colle Memorial Award (2007)

Elliott received the Waring Prize for the paper "A quality of life comparison of people wearing spectacles or contact lenses or having undergone refractive surgery" Journal of Refractive Surgery, 22, 19-27 (2006).

Research Committee Membership and Reviewing

Bloj is a member of the EPSRC review college and has taken part in funding panel meetings. Whitaker is a member of the MRC Advisory Board. Scally is a member of the Bradford NHS Research Ethics Committee. The majority of staff are involved in reviewing grants for national and international funding bodies. This includes MRC, EPSRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, Fight for Sight, National Science Foundation (USA), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, SPARC.

Future Research Strategy

The extent of our achievements in research since 2001 argue against a radical change in strategy over the next period. In terms of staffing, the demographics of our staff cohort mean that we will not be seriously affected through retirement. Staff retention will continue to be encouraged by appropriate financial and personal support, with the primary goal of making time available for research. We will continue to develop our existing staff to shape them into the research leaders of the future. Our growing cohort of postdoctoral researchers are seen as a critical resource, and we will continue to work alongside them to encourage progression either to academic staff positions, or to independent researcher status through Fellowship success.

Our core research areas will continue to be centred around the two themes outlined above, but at the same time we intend to formalise our Knowledge Transfer activity through the introduction of two new groups - VIEWS (Vision In the Environment, Work and Sport) and VPI (Visual Performance and Imaging). The aim of these groups is to enhance further our translational vision research - the application of our 'blue-skies' findings into solutions for applied visual problems, to the benefit of private companies and public bodies. Infrastructure Funding will be sought in order to promote the activities of the groups, with the intention that resource will flow back to both fundamental and applied research. 

Other exciting research developments are also on the horizon. These include the integration of our existing work in psychophysics and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation with fMRI studies alongside regional collaborating institutions. We are also hoping to become a research partner in the large-scale 'Born in Bradford' project (http://www.borninbradford.nhs.uk/) which aims to track over 10,000 children from birth into adulthood. Access to such a cohort fits perfectly with our existing research on visual development, particularly our expertise in amblyopia and ocular growth.

We are proud of our achievements in research over the last seven years, and we are confident that we can build upon the existing dynamism and enthusiasm for research to sustain our success.