The National Eye Institute currently sponsors several programs in ocular immunology, many of which are based in laboratories of Harvard Medical School faculty members. Although this investment is already significant, the NEI has included in its strategic plan a major expansion in these activities over the next several years. The recruitment and training of individuals to fuel this expansion, is critical for the realization of this plan. The goal of this proposed new Training Program in Ocular Immunology at Harvard Medical School is precisely to recruit students and postdoctoral fellows of the highest caliber to pursue training directly relevant to central issues in vision research. While existing training programs have funded general research areas with the hope that some of the trainees will eventually pursue vision research, this program will be unique in that the program centers on training future investigators in ocular immunology. The Program has been designed following considerable internal discussion, as well as discussions with program staff at the National Eye Institute. Matriculants into the program will be exposed to a defined program of study in both basic and ocular immunology, and can chose to pursue their research in the laboratories over 30 faculty members investigating projects that are either directly or indirectly relevant to the goals of the National Eye Institute. Trainees will be chosen regardless of gender or ethnicity, and will be provided an outstanding environment in which they may develop into independently thinking scientists, specializing in the field of ocular immunology. The training of predoctoral fellows will occur in the context of the Harvard Graduate Program in Immunology, one of the leading graduate programs in immunology in the country. Postdoctoral training will be offered in the context of the Training Program in place at HMS (based at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary and Schepens Eye Research Institute), which is an acknowledged center for research in ocular immunology. The training will be accomplished through formal course-work, laboratory rotations, literature discussions, discussions with faculty and mentored research (in laboratories of program faculty). Students may choose from over 30 faculty for rotations and laboratory work in all major areas of immunology. The program faculty have been specifically chosen (from a total of nearly 90) for research programs that are directly or indirectly relevant to the mission of the NEI. Policies and guidelines for graduate work are set by the Graduate Committee, a body of senior faculty active in the field of immunology, in accordance with those of the Division of Medical Sciences.
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