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) that is aimed at attracting and mentoring talented and motivated basic scientist trainees in the field of vision research. The program includes 40 faculty members who represent a wide choice of research interests and expertise to the trainees in the program. The mentors represent a diversity of relevant disciplines including development, ocular immunology, vascular biology, neurobiology, regenerative medicine, gene therapy, growth factor biology, to name a few. In addition, the research faculty are investigating a number of important ocular pathologies such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity, retinal degenerations, corneal inflammation, wound healing, dry eye and corneal transplantation. This diversity provides a wide selection of training opportunities. Since the initiation of the Program in 1997, the program has trained and mentored 78 trainees, many of whom continue in the field of vision research and whose achievements are reflected in their publications and presentation record; this includes four minorities in the past 10 years. Each year the Training Grant supports four trainees for one year, and each trainee spends at least two years total in training. A majority of the faculty has extensive research experience, strong publication records, and successful records of mentoring; some of the faculty are more junior but all have demonstrated 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, Harvard University, Children's Hospital, The Joslin Diabetes Research Center, or Brigham and Women's Hospital. All mentors are funded and most are supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The goal of the MBED training program is to provide trainees with expertise in molecular approaches and models as well as an understanding of and the ability to recognize the important clinical and basic research questions facing ophthalmology. The commitment of the faculty to the success of their trainees is evidenced by the quality and success of resulting trainees. The location of the affiliated institutions in Boston provides an outstanding research environment 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 mentoring. These are all aimed at educating well qualified trainees in knowledge and understanding of the basic and clinical principles that are key to identifying and solving important ophthalmic problems, instruction in grant and manuscript writing and review as well as presentation skills, and training in the responsible conduct of research.
The leading causes of blindness worldwide include cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, corneal opacities, diabetic retinopathy, and trachoma. There are more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairment, and of these, 39 million are blind. The Training Program in the Molecular Bases of Eye Diseases seeks to train scientists who will use a range of disciplines to investigate the causes of blinding diseases with the goal of identifying methods for earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, means for prevention and eventually to develop cures.
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