The Training Program in the Molecular Bases of Eye Diseases (MBED) is an ongoing postdoctoral training program in the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) aimed at attracting and training highly skilled and motivated basic scientists and retaining them in the field of vision research. The thirty-nine faculty members provide a broad spectrum of experience to the program. The mentors represent a range of relevant discipline including retinal development, ocular immunology, vascular biology, neurobiology, regenerative medicine, growth factor biology, to name a few. In addition, a variety of ocular pathologies are investigated such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity, corneal inflammation, wound healing, dry eye and corneal transplantation, among many others. This diversity provides a wide range of training opportunities. Since the initiation of the Program in 1997, the program has funded thirty-nine trainees, including four minorities, many of who continue in the field of vision research and whose achievements are reflected in their publications and presentation record. The Training Grant supports five trainees annually for one year by and each trainee spend at least two years total in training. A majority of the faculty has extensive research experience and successful mentoring records;a few are more junior but all demonstrated records of research excellence and a desire to mentor. Each faculty member has an appointment in the Department of Ophthalmology at HMS, and is affiliated with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard University, Children's Hospital, The Joslin Diabetes Research Center or Massachusetts General Hospital. All mentors have some source of funding and most of the faculties are funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The MBED training program is designed to provide trainees with expertise in molecular approaches and models as well as an understanding of the outstanding clinical and basic research questions facing ophthalmology. The commitment of the faculty to the success of their trainees is evidenced by the presence at the seminar presentations of their trainees and the quality of resulting trainees. The Boston/Cambridge location of the institutions involved provides outstanding research environments with access to excellent facilities and resources. The program encompasses all aspects of training required to produce an independent and successful vision researcher including: full-time research, didactic courses and seminars aimed at educating these very well qualified trainees in both basic and clinical principles central to identifying and solving important ophthalmic problems, instruction in grant and manuscript writing as well as presentation skills, and training in the responsible conduct of research. Five trainees with no more than two years of postdoctoral experience at the time of application to the program will be trained annually by the MBED training program to be the next generation of scientists to address the problems of eye disease by identifying new means of diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

Public Health Relevance

as reported by the World Health Organization in May 2009, of the 314 million people in the world who are visually impaired, 45 million are blind. The leading causes of blindness include cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, corneal opacities, diabetic retinopathy, and trachoma. The Training Program in the Molecular Bases of Eye Diseases seeks to train multi-disciplinary scientists to investigate the causes of these diseases with the goal of identifying diagnosis, treatment and eventually cures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZEY1-VSN (01))
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Agarwal, Neeraj
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Schepens Eye Research Institute
United States
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