A mentor group of 12 senior and mid-level investigators and including with 2 new investigators, each with experience in research training and with active and competitive research programs, propose to continue a research Training Program in Vision Science at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) for another 5 years. The request is for 5 pre-doctoral trainees annually. The goal remains to prepare trainees for research careers in ocular and vision research. This requires that students have a broad, multidisciplinary appreciation of the major features of the visual system, a contemporary understanding of the diseases that impact vision, and modern research skills and technologies for experimental work in the visual system. It also requires that trainees acquire the analytical and communication skills necessary to function in a multidisciplinary research environment. The mentor group provides experience in multiple facets of the visual system, including fundamental photoreceptor biology, retinal circuitry and its development, the genetics and diseases of the anterior segment, and important technology including electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy (EPR), ocular coherence tomography (OCT) and adaptive optics. New features of the program in this renewal include an emphasis on translational research via a new MCW graduate Program in Basic and Translational Research and an enhanced focus on modern imaging technology made possible by recent recruitments that expand MCW's capabilities in OCT and adaptive optics. Pre-doctoral trainees will complete a core curriculum of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Neurobiology as well as required courses in "Ethics and Integrity in Science" and "The Biology of Vision" as a prelude to conducting dissertation research under the mentorship of a member of the program faculty. All students will have the opportunity at the time they enter a mentor laboratory to participate in Program in Basic and Translational Research, which includes additional training in translational research as well as a requirement for at least one Specific Aim of the dissertation to be translational in nature. All trainees in mentor labs will also participate in a monthly Research Forum/Journal Club in Vision Science, a monthly Distinguished Lecture Series in Vision Science, and an annual Vision Science Colloquium.
The goal of the project is to train a new generation of Vision Science researchers at the pre-doctoral level that are highly competent in the newest technologies and at the same time mindful of the important role of interdisciplinary, collaborative and translational research in major scientific advances. Our challenge is to expose them to the major problems that need to be solved in vision research while providing in depth training in the technologies essential for research.
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