The Alcon Research Institute
In 1981, Alcon set out to help support research in eye health and to expand the frontiers of vision sciences globally – thus the birth of the Alcon Research Institute (ARI). Since then, the ARI has had a significant impact on the study of ocular diseases and has become a bridge to building partnerships with leading researchers around the world.
Alcon funds a virtual institute that seeks outstanding contributors to ophthalmic research throughout the world and honors them both in a symposium that elite members of the eye research community attend, as well as monetarily through a research grant. The grantees also become members (alumni) of the ARI. No Alcon employee plays any role in the choice of the grantees; that is the responsibility of the Scientific Selection Committee (SSC). This committee is a group of outstanding independent ocular researchers chosen to represent the global research community. An Executive Committee (EC) chosen by the Chairman of the SSC administers the activities of the ARI, including funding, obtaining research proposals and planning of the biennial symposia. One non-voting Alcon executive serves on these committees as the secretary and facilitates the many administrative activities required throughout the year.
Selection of Grantees See more
Beginning with the 2017 funding cycle, there will be a research funding application process open to vision science researchers whether or not they have received ARI funding in the past (ARI Committee members are not eligible to apply). We anticipate this will encourage applications that could lead to groundbreaking science and enhance the depth, breadth and reach of ARI while maintaining its integrity as a scientific-based research institution. Researchers whose projects are selected for funding will become ARI members (if not already a member).
The ARI continues to define its Scientific Areas of Focus as Biomedical Engineering / Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical Development and Basic & Translational Vision Research. Applicants are asked to lay out the fundamental problem or paradigm they expect to address or challenge, to explain their proposed research approach, underlying logic or rationale, timeline and tentative budget, and to provide qualified references.
Each year, the ARI Scientific Selection Committee will meet to select ARI research fund recipients based on the merit of proposals and qualifications of the investigator. The total number of funded research projects will be determined by the recommendations of the Committee as well as total available funding. Research funds will be paid directly to the applicant’s institution. Recipients will be required to submit an annual research and expense report outlining how funding has been applied and progress made against the research proposal. This information will be compiled in a report to the ARI Scientific Selection Committee. Eligibility criteria and application information set out below:
1. Eligibility Criteria: Open to all members of the vision science community who are actively involved in independent research efforts (e.g. academics, engineers, clinician scientists, etc.) Members of the Alcon Research Institute Scientific Selection Committee and Alcon Research Institute Executive Committee are not eligible to apply.
2. ARI Membership Application: The mission of ARI is to encourage, advance, and support vision research. The process for ARI membership involves a self-initiated application to request funding for transformative research proposals. Applicants should lay out a plan for innovative research that has the possibility of transforming vision care science in a manner that has significant impact in the field. Applicants should propose a tentative budget and timeline to complete the work. Each year, the ARI will accept applications that include the following information:
- Challenge, Innovation and Impact Statement: What is the fundamental paradigm or problem that will be addressed? How does your proposed research challenge the existing paradigm or seek to establish a new paradigm? Or, how will the technology or clinical strategy to be developed fundamentally change the way research is conducted or the way patients are diagnosed or treated? What is exceptionally novel or innovative about your perspective and/or approach? Why is testing the hypothesis or solving the problem important for the field? What are the potential breadth and magnitude of the project’s impact on science and/or health?
- Rationale: What is the underlying logic or rationale driving the proposed research? What is the specific gap in knowledge or technology that will be addressed and how will the outcome of this study dramatically propel the field forward? What innovations in technology or approach will be necessary to attack the problem? This and the previous section should provide a cogent overview of the entire application.
- Research Approach: (2 page limit) outline the proposed work in very broad terms.
- Projected Timeline
- Tentative Budget (how applicant intends to apply the funds toward the research)
The application does not require previous research or supporting data, but the applicant is welcome to submit any supporting materials. Along with the application, applicants should submit an up-to-date NIH-style bio-sketch, a detailed CV, a full publication list, and a reference letter or two attesting to the accomplishments of the applicant and describing how the applicant is qualified to complete the proposed studies.
Applicants should submit all documents to [email protected]
Scientific Areas of Focus will be defined by the ARI Executive Committee. In general, the Areas of Focus will be:
- Biomedical Engineering / Medical Devices
- Pharmaceutical Development
- Basic & Translational Vision Research
3. Scientific Selection: The ARI Scientific Selection Committee will meet each year to select ARI research fund recipients based on the merit of their proposals. The number of recipients and the funding amounts will be determined each year by the ARI Executive Committee based on recommendations of the Scientific Selection Committee and total funding available. The maximum proposal amount will be $250,000. The Selection Committee will score each application on
- Significance / impact that the research would have in the field of vision science
- Robustness of research plan / probability of success
Each category will be measured on a scale from 1-10 (with 1 being the best) making the best potential score a 3 and the lowest potential score a 30. The best scoring applicants will be considered to receive ARI Research Funds. Those whose research is selected for funding will be invited to become members of the Alcon Research Institute. ARI research funding may not be paid to support research performed by the same applicant more frequently than every 5 years.
4. Research Funds and Publication: ARI research funds will be paid directly to the applicant’s institution, and not to applicants as individuals. The eligible signatory must sign a Letter Agreement stating that:
- ARI funds will be dedicated to scientific research consistent with the research proposal
- the researcher will make the research results available in a public forum (such as a presentation of research results at the ARI Scientific Symposium), and
- the researcher will acknowledge ARI funding in any publication of the research results.
The Alcon Research Institute will not redirect or augment research funds once disbursed. The ARI does not place any constraints on allocating funds toward indirect costs, however, we strongly prefer that a maximum of no more than 10% be allocated to indirect costs, as we would like to see as much of the money going directly toward research as possible. We leave it up to the individual to negotiate the amount with her/his institution. Note, if an individual receives a grant for $250k, than that would be inclusive of indirect costs, if the institution insists on taking them.
5. Program Report: ARI Grant recipients are required to submit an annual research and expense report outlining how the funds have been used and the research progress made. Due dates for annual reports will be one year from the date of receipt of the research funds.
Please send any comments or questions to [email protected]
Alcon Contribution See more
Since its inception in 1981, the ARI has granted almost $22 million to more than 250 researchers in support of their research into eye disease and ophthalmology. According to a recently completed survey of the ARI membership, there is general consensus that the ARI has been successful in having a strong impact on the state of eye research in the world. The survey also revealed that 93 percent of the ARI grants were leveraged to obtain additional funding from various agencies and almost half percent of that funding was for new directions in ocular diseases. As a result, almost 80 percent of ARI recipients have indicated that their grant had a major impact on their research.
It is also quite significant that about 50 percent of those chosen as ARI winners were in advance of an ARVO award – that is, they were recognized as significant contributors to vision research by the ARI before ARVO recognized them as such.