Human genetics has emerged over the past 50 years as a dominant force in biology and medicine. This critical position stems not only from its central importance in explaining the most basic biological processes, but also from its growing repertoire of critical technologies and methods that can elucidate molecular, cellular, organismal, and population biology. However, the application of these technologies and methods to different diseases and phenotypes has varied greatly. Despite the medical, social, and cultural importance of eyesight, genetic studies of ocular phenotypes have lagged behind other disease entities. This is due in part to the lack of cross-disciplinary training opportunities. The primary goal of this Training Program in Quantitative Ocular Genomics is to fill this gap by training a new generation of ocular researchers who have specific expertise in genomic analysis. The proposed Training Program in Quantitative Ocular Genomics requests two pre-doctoral and four post-doctoral training slots. It builds upon the substantial increase in resources, faculty, facilities, and expertise in both ophthalmology (through the Vanderbilt Eye Institute) and human genetics (through the Center for Human Genetics Research) at Vanderbilt. For pre-doctoral training it also builds upon Vanderbilt's existing pre-doctoral Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) and its excellent and large pool of student applicants. Our goal is to train future investigators to characterize genetic variation and understand its phenotypic implications on ocular phenotypes in humans. Vanderbilt has particular strengths in statistical genetics, computational genomics, genetic epidemiology, bioinformatics, and clinical and basic ophthalmological research. All pre-doctoral trainees will undergo a rigorous didactic program and intensive research training. Post-doctoral trainees will be integrated into our extensive and rich research environment. We have enhanced this training program with regular seminars, journal clubs, an informal works-in-progress seminar, and an annual retreat. To ensure a balanced and complete training experience, each trainee will be co-mentored by a preceptor with extensive experience in genomics and another in ocular function.
This training program will provide training into statistical genetics and genome bioinformatics for both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows. They will have an integrated training environment providing specific training in both the clinical and genomic aspects of quantitative ocular phenotypes.
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