This application seeks five years' continued funding for a training program supporting five pre-doctoral students with the aim of producing independent investigators capable of sustaining productive research programs in the vision sciences. The program is designed for training students in the areas of molecular/cellular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and immunology with particular focus on training in vision research. Mentors have been selected with an emphasis both on the productivity of their current research and on their training records. The training program is organized to rigorously instruct and reinforce skills pertinent to experimental science and involves a combination of coursework, independent research, oral presentations (in-house, national and international), written research proposals, and the sharpening of communicative skills through continuous mentor feedback and peer review. The program is interdisciplinary and utilizes a core group of thirteen mentors with active research and training programs whose primary and joint appointments span three colleges (Medicine, Engineering, and Veterinary Medicine) and six departments at the University of Florida College of Medicine. All pre-doctoral students are admitted through a common college-wide graduate training program, the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences (IDP), and follow a common first year core curriculum. The Department of Ophthalmology serves as the administrative and logistical center for this vision science training program, but individual faculty preceptors maintain primary graduate training appointments in the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Neuroscience, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Physiology and Functional Genomics. The Department of Ophthalmology adds depth to the program by providing exposure to current problems in clinical ophthalmology in order to acquaint the pre-doctoral students with relevant clinical issues in vision. Overall, we propose an integrated program of research training in key biological disciplines aimed at producing independent investigators capable of sustaining productive, innovative, independent research programs in the vision sciences.
Blinding diseases are some of the most devastating health concerns in the United States. This training program seeks to produce independent investigators capable of sustaining productive, innovative, independent research programs in the vision sciences. These new scientists are expected to generate discoveries in the underlying mechanisms of vision and associated pathologies, and to help develop treatments for these diseases.
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