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. The goal of this proposal is to provide comprehensive training to pre-doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in both molecular genetics and visual processes in preparation for careers in vision research. There are 10 training faculty, including Full, Associate, and Assistant Professors. This faculty maintains independent, well-funded laboratories;all are funded by the NEI and conduct research using genetics to study visual processes. Major areas of research include the molecular genetics of human eye disease, studies of fundamental retinal processes using the mouse and Drosophila as model organisms, photo transduction, cataract formation, lens and corneal development, and glaucoma. All faculties on this grant actively use genetic techniques to pursue vision research and represent four 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 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 1-3 years while fellows will usually be supported for 1-2 years during which time they are expected to apply for extramural funding. Pre-doctoral fellows are also advised and encouraged to apply for pre-doctoral fellowships when possible. Currently, there are more than 300 graduate students and 130 postdoctoral fellows eligible for support in the departments associated with this training program. In the last 10 years, there were 21 graduate students previously supported by this training grant, 15 of whom have received a Ph.D. degree and five are still in training. Importantly, 11 of these 21 former trainees have continued their careers in vision research. Of the nine postdoctoral previously supported, six 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.
The goal of this proposal is to provide comprehensive training to pre-doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in both molecular genetics and visual processes in preparation for careers 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.
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