This University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Vision Research Core grant proposal will provide critical resources in 4 distinct substantive areas to leverage the expertise of NEI funded UCSD investigators and to accelerate discoveries from their NIH funded studies. 15 investigators have a total of 18 NEI funded eligible R01 projects. These investigators from the UCSD Departments of Ophthalmology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Institute for Genomic Medicine, Radiology, and Psychology represent an impressive, productive, and a collegial group of vision researchers. UCSD vision researchers encompass all levels of faculty appointments and research accomplishments, from 9 full professors who are leaders in their respective fields to 6 recently recruited junior faculty (Drs. Annese, Balasubramanian, Bosworth, Huberman, Ju, Lin). Moreover, the substantial funding from other NIH institutes and foundations (Table 2) further highlights the strength of UCSD's vision research program. In particular, our portfolio is strong in human and animal imaging and functional assessment, image analysis, epidemiology/clinical research, genetics, glaucoma, AMD, retinal degeneration, cell biology, molecular biology, animal models, and vascular biology. The UCSD Department of Ophthalmology has a long tradition of excellence in glaucoma and retina research. With the recent recruitment of seven additional NEI funded investigators (Drs. Ayyagari, La Spada, Lin, Ju, Zhang, and most recently Balasubramanian and Huberman), vision research at UCSD has reached a critical mass that will benefit from an infrastructure to coordinate, enhance and leverage the expertise of each participating investigator to benefit the entire UCSD vision research community. Currently, 9 NEI funded investigators have offices and laboratories in the adjacent and interconnected Shiley Eye Center (SEC), Hamilton Glaucoma Center (HGC) and Jacobs Retina Center (HRC). The two adjoining research centers (Hamilton Glaucoma Center and Jacobs Retina Center) comprise 26,000 sq ft of dedicated research and office space. The SEC also provides extensive computer/IT support, and independent medical record services, as well as houses an auditorium and library. Another 6 NEI-funded investigators have offices nearby (less than a 5 minute drive from the Dept of Ophthalmology) at the main UCSD campus and adjoining Health Sciences research complex. The main campus includes vision researchers from the Depts. of Psychology (Dr. MacLeod), Biology(Dr. Rainegel), Neuroscience (Dr. Huberman) and Bioengineering (Dr. Silva). The Health Sciences complex includes the Institute for Genomic Medicine, Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Building (Drs. Zhang and La Spada), the Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Research Center (BRC) in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (Dr. Jain) and the Basic Science Building-BSB with adjoining Medical Teaching Facility-MTF which house the animal care facilities and animal laboratories of Drs. Lin, Ju, Freeman, Bartsch, and Weinreb. Moreover, the UCSD Vision Research Core will leverage the unique engineering and computational expertise of UCSD's Center for Computational Sciences, Mathematics, and EngineeringCSME training initiative. Computer Science (Prof David Kriegman) and Math Department (Prof Michael Hoist - see letter of support), the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2- whose mandate is to enhance the collaborative research environment for the digital future for details see www.calit2.net/) (Prof Larry Smarr- see letter of support), and the resources of the San Diego Supercomputer Center to enhance current research endeavors and extend existing collaborations (e.g., Glaucoma-Math-Calit2 collaboration) to the broader vision research community. The overall purpose of this application is to provide shared resources to enhance and accelerate the productivity of the vision research community at UCSD. The following 4 modules will provide important new resources and services that are currently unavailable or difficult for each investigator to obtain individually. Each module has either 2 Co-Directors (each with NEI ROI funding), or a Director and Assistant Director (with specific expertise valuable to the module) to ensure administrative coverage so that issues can be addressed in a timely manner regardless of travel or other commitments by one of the Directors. In addition, the personnel for each module will both provide direct services (e.g. statistical analyses, computer programming, histology) and also train investigators and their staff to complete tasks so that module resources are utilized as efficiently as possible for maximum productivity.
The UCSD Vision Research Core will provide the most advanced and innovative methods as shared resources to foster collaboration and to bring us closer to our goal of the prevention and cure of blinding eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
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