The vision scientist of tomorrow must appreciate fundamental biological processes and challenges of ophthalmologists/optometrists to effectively utilize modern tools of research in the pursuit of new knowledge about diseases of the eye that ultimately lead to the development of adjunct and novel therapeutic interventions. To facilitate the distribution of knowledge in the field of vision science, the Vision Science Training Program goals are to provide fundamental and research training to 2 pre-doctoral and 1 postdoctoral fellow with a vision science faculty of 15 preceptors. The program is unique in that it encompasses faculty from two independent institutions including the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). The participating training faculty is particularly strong in the 4 sub disciplines emphasized in th Vision Science Training Program, which include 1) Retina Development and Function, 2) Visual Transduction and Signaling Systems, 3) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Metabolism, and 4) Ocular Immunology/Pathogenesis. The faculty preceptors have interacted on the OUHSC campus for several years, forming a network that is well-suited to train a cohesive group of pre- and postdoctoral fellows in visual sciences. The program recruits students and fellows from national and international sources, has strong NIH funded research programs, and has new facilities, all of which foster an atmosphere of excellence in training. The pre-doctoral students are eligible for the training program after completion of their lab rotations and qualifying exam. The Vision Science Training Program will provide in-depth enrichment in the 4 sub disciplines to the pre- and postdoctoral trainees through a number of classes some of which focus specifically on the visual axis and retreats. Postdoctoral fellows are strongly encouraged to take coursework and to mentor pre- doctoral students to enhance their graduate school experience. The Visual Science Training Program advisory and selection committee selects the pre- and postdoctoral trainees and acts in an advisory capacity. The yearly interactive Vision Science retreat, the Vision Science/Neuroscience Journal Club, and the Vision Science course have been effective in bringing pre and postdoctoral fellows together with the training faculty in an environment that fosters excellence. The community of vision scientists at OUHSC has been and will continue to be important to prepare trainees for future careers in the study of the eye.
The Vision Science Training Program in Oklahoma will recruit and train students pursuing a PhD or MD degree (pre-doctoral trainees) or individuals who already have the PhD or MD degree (postdoctoral trainees) to perform clinical and basic science research in vision science. An outstanding group of investigators spanning several departments and two institutions has interfaced to create a collaborative and highly competitive yet nurturing environment for our trainees to excel. Training in research laboratories of nationally and internationally recognized scientists along with a strong program in vision science course work, retreats/workshops and national/international meetings will provide training critical for the future vision scientists in the United States.
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