This is a resubmission of a competing renewal application for continued support for a training grant in molecular genetics emphasizing vision research at Baylor College of Medicine. At the time of the last renewal, the program was awarded six pre-and two postdoctoral positions and we are requesting a continuation of the same number of slots. The goal of this proposal is to provide comprehensive training to predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in both molecular genetics and visual processes in preparation for careers in vision research. There are 17 training faculty, including Full, Associate, and Assistant Professors. These faculty maintain independent, well-funded laboratories conducting research in both genetics and visual processes. Major areas of research include the molecular genetics of human eye disease, studies of fundamental retinal processes using the mouse, zebrafish, and Drosophila as model organisms, phototransduction, cataract formation, lens and corneal development, and glaucoma. All faculty on this grant actively use genetic techniques to pursue vision research and represent three institutions at the Texas Medical Center. Indeed, the highly interactive, multi-departmental and inter-institutional composition of our faculty is a key strength of our program. Student training comprises a full year of didactic and interactive coursework, journal clubs, and research rotations. In addition, we continue to offer a course entitled "Molecular Genetics in Vision Research" as well as a bi-monthly research seminar series, the "Houston Eye Club," in which graduate students and postdoctoral fellows present their work to a group about 30-40 researchers from more than a dozen vision research laboratories in Houston. Students are expected to remain on this grant for 2-4 years while fellows will usually be supported for 1-2 years during which time they are expected to apply for extramural funding. Predoctoral fellows are also advised and encouraged to apply for predoctoral fellowships when possible. Currently, there are 320 graduate students and 151 postdoctoral fellows eligible for support in the departments associated with this training program. In the last 10 years, 11 graduate students supported by this training grant have received a Ph.D.degree and four of these have continued their careers in vision research. Of the five postdoctorals supported, four are still engaged in vision research. Since many visual system disorders are inherited and there have been recent and significant advances in applying gene therapy to treat retinal disease, training new scientists who are well versed in both genetics and vision research is a top priority of our training program.
(Seeinstructions): Visual disorders affect more than 30 million people in the United States alone. Our ability to create new and more effective means of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of visual system disease relies upon advances in our understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms of the normal and pathological condition. This program is designed to train new investigators with the appropriate knowledge and skills to make such contributions.
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