Support for short-term training is requested for 15 optometry students to participate in vision research during the summers after their first year of optometry school. The training will be conducted by established vision science and clinical science researchers, primarily mentors in the Group in Vision Science who are also faculty members in the UC Berkeley School of Optometry. Each trainee will be engaged in one short-term training period (summer), following completion of their first year of optometry school. In the past, most trainees in the current grant period were appointed during the summer after the 1st year, with a limited number of UC Berkeley-based students reappointed after their 2nd year. Similar appointments for non-Berkeley students were precluded by summer clinical training requirements of their respective programs. Recent changes to the 3rd year curriculum at UC Berkeley now also preclude formal reappointment of local trainees although students are encouraged to continue their research with support from their faculty mentor and/or as part of UC Berkeley Honors Research Program. The training program is designed to attract talented students to clinical and/or translational research by developing their interest, awareness and enthusiasm for a career in biomedical or behavioral research. Training will be provided within the laboratories of 23 mentors in the School of Optometry, where currently 38 pre-doctoral students and approximately 20 postdoctoral fellows are involved in the Graduate Program in Vision Science. The mentors also train graduate students in other disciplines (e.g. neuroscience, computer science, molecular and cell biology, psychology and infectious disease). The Research Program in Vision Science has been in existence for over 65 years on the Berkeley campus and has graduated more than 200 trainees with advanced degrees (almost all PhDs) - the majority now actively engaged in vision research. In the past 15 years, the program has attracted many clinicians to its Ph.D. training program. The same mentors that train PhD students will also mentor optometry students on this short-term training grant. A wide range of basic science as well as clinical research projects are on-going in the laboratories of the mentors offering numerous opportunities for involvement by the short-term trainees. Optometry schools from across the country are targets of our recruitment efforts aimed at attracting a diverse pool of talented health professional students to our short-term training program. The long-term goal is to encourage clinicians to pursue advanced research training and/or continue involvement in research after completion of their professional training.
The main purpose of this training grant is to provide short-term research training to optometric health professional students in order to generate enthusiasm and interest in vision research in the trainees. The long termer goal of this training program is to increase the pool of clinician scientists engaged in vision research, by feeding the pipeline leading to advanced research training.
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