The premise of this proposal is that training the next generation of vision scientists in translation of basic science research to clinical and public health interventions will be critical toward advancing the field. Basic scientific and technologica advances are occurring at an unprecedented pace. However, our observation has been that ophthalmologists often lack the background to understand how recent basic and clinical research findings may be applied to their practices, and visual scientists often lack adequate perspective to identify gaps in clinical knowledge to guide their research. This application proposes to implement a T32 translational vision research training program for students in pre-doctoral training programs in basic or applied science, doctorally- trained scientists, or clinicia-scientists at Oregon Health &Science University (OHSU). The overall goal is to prepare individuals for successful academic and scientific careers in vision science research by providing didactic education and intensive mentored research experience in a multidisciplinary environment. The vision research and training environment at OHSU is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, with strong programmatic support in translation of research from bench to bedside in areas such as gene therapy, molecular genetics, drug development, clinical trials, ophthalmic imaging, and biomedical informatics. The university has top educational programs in clinical ophthalmology and basic visual science, and was ranked #2 nationally in NEI-supported research by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research in 2011. This training program will fill an important gap is education because OHSU is the only academic medical center in Oregon and one of the few major centers in the Pacific Northwest, yet there are no programs to support didactic training in visual science or ophthalmic research here. We hope to leverage the existing infrastructure at OHSU to allow more pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees to benefit from and contribute toward this research and educational environment. Specifically, we propose a vision science T32 program for 3 pre- doctoral and 1 post-doctoral trainee, which will be integrated with ongoing research and existing OHSU graduate programs in fields such as molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, neuroscience, immunology, and biomedical informatics. Training will consist of five key components: (1) research projects with mentors and collaborators, (2) a year-long didactic course covering fundamentals of basic, clinical, and translational vision science, (3) a monthly journal club for discussion of contemporary scientific articles and ongoing research by trainees, (4) institution-wide education and career development activities, and (5) training in responsible conduct of research. We believe that this program will provide clinical perspective to trainees with existing backgrounds in basic science, and basic science background to trainees with existing backgrounds in clinical ophthalmology. OHSU is a setting where rigorous training in basic and clinical research through this T32 program will provide a generation of young researchers with the tools to optimize translational vision research.
Approximately 14 million Americans, or approximately 6% of people aged 12 years and older, are visually- impaired. This will become an increasing clinical and public health problem as the population ages, and surveys have shown that Americans fear blindness more than virtually any other health problem. Meanwhile, fundamental advances in science and technology have enormous promise for being applied to treatment of eye disease. The premise of this proposal is that training the next generation of vision scientists in basic, clinical, and translational research will be critical toward advancing the field.
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