PPIE Award 2020 won by Young People's Advisory Group

Increasing Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in research across the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO) and Moorfields Eye Hospital is a major priority for Moorfields BRC. We encourage and support researchers to work with both patients and the public, helping ensure their research reflects patient priorities and making the process enlightening and rewarding for both sides.

To recognise these initiatives, the BRC recently presented its first PPIE Award for researchers based at the IoO. We received a strong field of nominations reflecting a wide range of activities and initiatives, from apps to hands-on activities, all aimed at making science and research more accessible and relevant.

The award was presented by Karen Bonstein, Manager of Moorfields BRC, at the 2020 IoO Annual Awards Lecture, held online on 24 June.

Here are the winners:

The Eye-YPAG:

Dr Louca-Mai Brady, Senior Research Fellow, UCL IoO

Jacqueline Miller, Paediatric Research Nurse, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Dr Annegret Dahlmann-Noor, Director of children's eye service, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Until 2019, there was no young people’s advisory group (YPAG) in the UK for children with eye or vision problems, so our winners set one up! They started the group in early 2019 with support from Moorfields BRC, Moorfields Eye Charity and Santen. Group members (aged between 8 and 17) learn about research and work with researchers to explore eye conditions and treatments at all stages of the research process.

The group, named Eye-YPAG, is now part of the GenerationR alliance of YPAGs in England and the eYPAGnet consortium of European YPAGs, as well as iCAN, the International Children’s Advisory Network[CJ1] .

The eye-YPAG normally meets in London around four times a year, but is currently meeting once a month for shorter online meetings. For more information on the group, including blog posts about their meetings by group members, visit the GenerationR website: https://generationr.org.uk/eye-ypag/

On receiving the award Louca Mai told us “We are so excited that the eye-YPAG won this award! We’ve had a great first year – learning together and with researchers about how best to involve young people in eye and vision research. We’re also currently learning a lot about inclusive involvement online during COVID19. The group is going from strength to strength and the award has really given us a boost for the next stage of our journey.”

You can watch the Eye-YPAG’s animation below : it shows the group’s journey over its first year and feedback collected from researchers and group members (also on our Vimeo channel: https://vimeo.com/433706680 )

here are some of the group at a recent meeting

And the joint runners-up:

Dr Omar Mahroo, Associate Professor, UCL IoO and Consultant Ophthalmologist, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Omar has sought out many opportunities to meet and discuss his work with patient and public audiences: taking part in the Royal Institution Christmas lectures; engaging with patient support groups and meetings; ‘Meet the Researcher’ sessions held in the reception at Moorfields City Road; and taking part in ‘I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of here’ – a series of live online discussion sessions for schools

Dr VictoriaTovell, Research Associate, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Victoria has worked continuously to engage with the public and to enable and encourage other scientists at IoO to do the same, most recently organising the second See Science Festival for the local community. Focussing on ophthalmic research and the basic science underpinning it, the festival offers lots of interactive activities for children and adults that help to explain the science and generate excitement about research. Victoria has also played a key role in organising open days and tours of the Institute and raising awareness of the importance of public engagement amongst early career researchers.