The Masonic Charitable Foundation, (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) has been committed to funding vital medical research since its inception in 2016, with the aim of improving knowledge, treatment and services for people with life-changing diseases and illnesses.
By funding PhD studentships, Freemasonry is not only advancing the medical community’s understanding of complex diseases, it is cementing the next generation of research experts and scientists.
In February 2022, the MCF awarded a total of £541,000 to medical research, working with four partners to fund seven new PhD studentships under the theme of degenerative diseases. These new partners include Alzheimer’s Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, and the University of Bradford.
The MCF recently spoke to two students to discover their goals and findings of their PhD studentships.
PhD Student: Richard Scharff
Charity: Fight for Sight with the University of Manchester
MCF funding: £100,000
What is Richard researching?
Richard’s study aims to better understand how age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that affects a person’s central vision, develops.
“When I was introduced to AMD while studying my masters, I was struck by how debilitating a disease it is, as well as how much of the UK population suffers from it – roughly 600,000 people. To lose ones sight is such a major struggle, so I felt that any work I could do to prevent AMD would be worthwhile and fulfilling.” says Richard.
What has Richard discovered?
As he approaches the end of his studentship, Richard has seen impressive findings through his research: “I’ve discovered that the protein ITIH3, which is found in high quantities for people with AMD, can attach to a range of different molecules within the eye, as well as to itself. I’m currently in the process of imaging sections of donated eyes to find out where exactly ITIH3 is, what it attaches to, and how that changes the area of the eye.”
How will Richard’s research make a difference?