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Application Guidance and Advice

Directions from the organisers

Read all sections of this website thoroughly before completing a Letter of Intent (LOI) or Full Proposal. It is highly likely that if you have any questions concerning the program, the answer will be found within the site. If not, contact the Program Secretariat (goap@bayer.com) for further clarification.



Include 3–5 specific aims and state the hypothesis, where relevant, upfront. Reviewers will be asking themselves the following questions when they read each application:


Research award:


  • Is the hypothesis clear?
  • Are the experiments properly designed to test the hypothesis?
  • Will the experiments be performed and interpreted carefully?


Fellowship award:


  • Is the applicant clear about what they will be doing over the course of the year in terms of their research and clinical program?
  • Is the applicant clear about how the training will improve their skills and abilities when treating patients with retinal diseases?



Acknowledge competing hypotheses, funding opportunities and time constraints. What are the pitfalls of the approaches proposed?


Attention to detail

Check your LOI and Full Proposal for errors, e.g. references not correlating with text, spelling mistakes, etc.



Notify your institute's administrators that you are making an application in good time before the application is due. Internal institutional approval is often multi-layered and can be time consuming. Please ensure, before you commence your application, that the Awards Terms and Conditions are acceptable to your institution to save you unnecessary work.



Ask for the appropriate amount of money you need to do the work. If you overestimate the budget, the reviewers are likely to cut it by more than the overestimation.


Ensure that your application is consistent. Your budget must agree with the activities you propose. Justify everything you propose in your budget and why you need it. Do not assume that anything will be obvious to the reviewers.

Advice from the Grants Review and Awards Committee (GRAC)


The rationale and objectives must be clear

Supporting work

Include any supporting/preliminary work that has been completed


The protocol should be detailed and scientifically robust

Numbers calculation

Include justification of numbers of animals or patients (i.e. sample-size calculations)


Describe how your findings will be relevant to the field and discuss what the clinical application could be


Include a detailed breakdown of the budget and costs


Ensure that your project is achievable within the time-frame


Be clear and concise

Advice from the Grants Review and Awards Committee (GRAC)

Hints from the GOAP Alumni

Dr Diego Ponzin

Fondazione Banca degli Occhi del Veneto, Italy

"Focus your research proposals and projects on topics that could eventually lead to clinical applications, first-in-human studies and pharmacological approaches."

Professor Anneke den Hollander

Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands

"Describe how your results should be interpreted and what the clinical relevance of your findings is."

Dr Aniruddha Agarwal

Stanley M. Truhlsen Eye Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA

"My advice to all the prospective applicants would be that all applications must be thoroughly reviewed for their scientific content and plausibility.
The project must be designed with a definite plan to complete in a timely manner. Ideally, the recruitment and interventions should be completed within 6 months to 1 year. The analysis can then be conducted during the remaining period of the fellowship."

Dr Frank Verbraak

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

"Try to find a subject that is original and try to involve a multidisciplinary team in your research."

Dr Rocio Blanco Garavito

Centre Hospitalier Intercommunal de Créteil, France

"Be clear and concise in your Letter of Intent (LOI) and Full Proposal (FP)."

Assistant Professor Li-Jia Chen

Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

"The study should be well planned and the objective(s) should be of impact to the field or of interest to a certain audience. The methods and design should be valid and the project should be presented logically, followed by sound and in-depth discussion."

Associate Professor Fred Kuanfu Chen

Lions Eye Institute, University of Western Australia, Australia

"Put yourself in the patient’s shoes and address the most relevant clinical questions that will make a difference to the patient’s care.
Do a thorough literature search and challenge the conclusions from previous research. Just because something has been done before it doesn’t mean it has been done well. All experiments can be repeated using a better methodology with the potential of finding the opposite results previously published. Don’t give up!"

Dr Shyamanga Borooah

University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

"Plan ahead and set up collaborations early! Ensure you have a clear goal with tangible outcomes, and be focused in your approach."

Dr Tiarnan Keenan

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Honorary Research Fellow, University of Manchester, UK

"Define carefully the scope and limits of the research project, setting realistic goals that can be achieved within the time-frame. Use this opportunity to collaborate with the best in the field!"

Dr Paul Steptoe

Regiment Military Hospital, Sierra Leone

"It is important to define a clear question at the beginning of your research journey. Try and find a novel angle, which has clinical relevance and is something that you feel passionate about."

Assistant Professor Mahyar Etminan

University of British Columbia, Canada

"Choose a project that can be completed within the allotted time and choose mentors who are able to guide you through the project."

Dr Ana Raquel Sarabando Santiago

Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

"After writing the first draft, send it to colleagues and ask for feedback."