Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Mabel Churn Scholarship in Ophthalmology

St Cross College invites applications for the Mabel Churn Scholarship from successful applicants normally resident in the UK and who will begin studying in October 2023 at the University of Oxford for a DPhil research degree in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (NDCN) in any area of retinal research.

fight for sight uk studentship

Project: Optogenetic vision restoration in multiple pre-clinical models

Supervisors: Dr Jasmina Cehajic Kapetanovic and Professor Robert MacLaren

Inherited retinal degenerations are the leading cause of blindness in working age population. Despite this, there is only one approved gene therapy treatment for RPE65-related disease and several others in development. These therapies may not be suitable in late-stage degenerations with significant photoreceptor loss. Here optogenetic therapy has potential to restore vision.

In this ambitious project, you will develop an optogenetic therapy using the latest gene activation tools to photosensitise surviving retinal neurons. If successful, the therapy has potential to treat any type of retinal degeneration (pan-retinal or macular) irrespective of genetic mutation. This research project will be conducted within the NDCN which provides a dedicated centre for eye research within the John Radcliffe Hospital site. The infrastructure provided is world class and space, research facilities and technical support on the proposed project will be readily available on site. In addition, there is an excellent offering of seminars, thematic group meetings and training courses, all presenting opportunities for engagement and collaboration. 

Apart from overarching supervision by Dr Kapetanovic and Professor MacLaren with unparalleled expertise in this field, you will have access to bench-side support from postdoctoral scientists in the group and work alongside several other DPhil students. Our group has active collaborations with institutes and biotechnology companies worldwide. As clinician scientists, we are dedicated to translating research findings to benefit our patients.


This studentship is fully funded through the prestigious Fight for Sight Award and is open to both Home and Overseas students.

Award Value:

  • Course fees are covered at the level set for Home students: Y1 £8,960, Y2 £9,318, Y3 £9,691. Overseas students would need to pay the difference between home and international fees themselves.
  • The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is Y1 £19,000; Y2 £19,500; Y3 £20,000. Continuation fees can be negotiated in exceptional circumstances.
  • Conferences: the student is strongly encouraged to present at National and International conferences and costs will be covered.
  • Consumables: all project related consumables are also covered.
  • A college place will be offered at Linacre College.

Candidate requirements:

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class or 2:1 honours degree in Biomedical Sciences or a closely related discipline
  • Excellent written and spoken English communication skills
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Enthusiasm for innovative science and therapy development

 The following credentials and skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Undergraduate prizes
  • Molecular biology background
  • Knowledge of genetic diseases and advanced genetic therapies

Application Procedure:

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Dr Jasmina Cehajic Kapetanovic. Email Dr Kapetanovic.

Please contact with any admission process-related questions.

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria. Start your application online here.

To be considered for this studentship, please submit an application to the DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences. On the application form, in the section of the graduate application form headed ‘Departmental Studentship Applications’, you must indicate that you are applying for a studentship and enter the reference code for this studentship: 23FFSIGHT.

Please quote FIGHT FOR SIGHT in all correspondence.

Application deadline: noon Friday 5th May 2023.

Start date: October 2023.