The long-term objectives of the proposed short-term training program are: 1) to inspire commitment to research careers in vision science among optometry students, including women and underrepresented minorities, and 2) to foster a better understanding of vision research.
The specific aim i s to increase the number of clinician scientists who can do basic and translational investigative work on vision disorders through early exposure to research. The program has operated successfully since 1985. 294 optometry students have trained, including 171 women, 33 students from 8 other optometry schools. There were 21 trainees from underrepresented minority groups in the past five years. The program provides opportunities for academically qualified and interested students to spend 3 months learning to formulate testable vision- research questions and to develop research skills by doing a research project mentored by 1 of 23 experienced vision scientists. The mentors'research programs fall into the following broad areas: 1) visual development, plasticity, repair and aging;2) visual optics and refractive error, 3) ocular surface 3) oculomotor systems;4) structure and function in normal and diseased eyes and visual pathways;5) visual cell and molecular biology 6) clinical optometry;7) spatial vision, 8) binocular vision. 17 optometry students will be recruited during each of the next 5 years for NEI fellowships, another 2-3 supported by local funds for the program. Selection will be based on scholarship, particularly in sciences, as well as on research interest, potential, and experience, with special consideration given to underrepresented minorities. Trainees will be 1st - or 2nd -yr optometry students. In addition to research, trainees will take: 1) a 2-hr course on research ethics, design, and methodology 2) a 1-hr weekly seminar given by local and visiting vision scientists, and 3) for credit or audit, any UH graduate course in physiological optics. Trainees will have access to first-rate facilities and resources: 14,000 sq ft of well-equipped basic and clinical/translational research space, a full scope of technical services (bio-imaging, research computer programming, instrumentation, biostatistics), animal quarters, and a well stocked vision science library with full electronic access - all in a modern 140,000 sq ft building, soon to be expanded, on a major university campus.
The proposed short term training program for optometry students will improve visual health by increasing the number of clinician scientists doing basic and translational research on vision disorders. The program encourages participation by underrepresented minorities in vision care and science.
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