We propose the establishment of an Interdisciplinary Pre-doctoral Training Program in Vision at Brown University. This training program will constitute a key component of the Brown's new Center for Vision Research, under the auspices of the interdisciplinary Brain Science Program. The central objective of this Vision Training Program (VTP) is to provide specialized training in vision to graduate students already matriculating in the Neuroscience or Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences graduate programs. We propose supporting 3 students per year;students will receive VTP support starting in their 2nd graduate year. The VTP will complement and supplement the basic course requirements of the graduate programs from which individual students come. We will provide broad, multi-disciplinary training at all levels with a strong foundation in core concepts, skills, methodologies, and advanced comprehension of the scientific literature. In general, we foster an environment unconstrained by traditional discipline boundaries and where graduate students are encouraged to work at the interfaces of these disciplines. At all stages of instruction, we will integrate skills considered essential for successful, independent research careers in vision research. These include critical thinking and reasoning, effective science writing and oral presentation, knowledge of scientific review processes, and training in ethics. Students will participate in new initiatives to ensure exposure of graduate students to clinical and disease concepts;these experiences will help students identify the scientific problems that are most relevant to improving human health. The proposed training program has 10 participating faculty members, drawn from 5 departments. These faculty members currently mentor 22 graduate students engaged in vision research. Overall, vision research at Brown includes 27 faculty members in 9 departments;research interests include biological vision, machine vision, and computation. To ensure a successful training program, we have selected a core training faculty engaged in the study of biological vision with a strong training record. However, trainees will benefit from interactions with the entire vision community at Brown. Relevance: Eye diseases afflict 26.8 million Americans age 40 and older, according to recent estimates, and that number will grow as the population ages. Innovations in understanding the biology of the human visual system and devising novel strategies to prevent, treat, or compensate for vision loss will come from a new generation of researchers trained to synthesize information gleaned from a variety of approaches and disciplines.
We aim to train this kind of researcher and bring further cohesion to the diverse vision research community at Brown.
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