Research at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute (SKERI) is focused on clinical basic and rehabilitation studies in vision and disorders of the visual system. Smith-Kettlewell scientists have training from diverse medical and scientific backgrounds: ophthalmology, experimental psychology, neurophysiology, engineering, optometry and biophysics. Their main topics of study are oculomotor processing, binocular vision and its dynamics, cortical organization and development of the visual pathways, vision in the aging eye, object recognition and computational vision for the disabled, and rehabilitation tools and techniques. Particular emphasis has been laid on applying modern imaging techniques to these problems, including the diverse techniques of whole-head VEP, MRI, fMRI, DTI, and SLO imaging, with a recent focus on integrating many or most of these methodologies into a large-scale multimodal imaging capabilities. For the past four decades, the NEI Core Grant has formed the central component of its most important shared research services, including computer communication and resources and electronic equipment design and maintenance, but extending more recently to multi-investigator support for the wealth of brain imaging modalities. Given the moderate scale of the Smith-Kettlewell group, the proximity of the scientists, and their common research interests, collaboration among scientists is standard practice. Principal Investigators share resources with little difficulty. The technical expertise of our Computer Services, Brian Imaging and Electronics Hardware modules greatly benefits the rapid development of new research agendas ~ a key advantage for new principal investigators and postdoctoral fellows, and a major factor in our high productivity. An emerging theme of contemporary scientific research is the increasing reliance on highly computation-intensive analyses such as computational modeling, data mining and statistical analysis of large databases. Such techniques allow the enormous amounts of data g?enerated by modern experimental tools such as multimodal brain imaging to furnish high-level interpretations of the data. To facilitate and support the adoption of high-performance computing methods at Smith-Kettlewell, we are developing a Core-supported High-Performance Computing Initiative to help researchers identify efficient approaches to their research goals using high-performance software and hardware.
Research at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute has high health relevance because it combines basic and clinical research on the etiology and diagnosis and rehabilitation of disorders of the visual system. The Core modules are designed to provide the optimal infrastructure for supporting research aimed toward resolving medical disorders in fields as diverse as oculomotor processing, binocular coordination dynamics, development of the visual pathways, vision in the aging eye, and rehabilitation tools and techniques in the service of people with visual disabilities.
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