This application seeks to establish a T35 NEI Summer Research Program to enhance medical student research training in the vision sciences at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The proposed program will provide short-term training opportunities for medical students in basic and clinical biomedical research focused in areas supported by the NEI. Based on our extensive experience gained from other NIH Research Training grants, we will develop a short-term training program in vision research for those medical students enrolled at UT Southwestern as well as outstanding applicants from medical schools across the country. Building upon our collective experience in the identification and pairing of students and mentors, we anticipate that these experiences will continue to enrich the research background of participating medical students with an interest in ophthalmology and vision science. In addition to the mentor-based teaching within the laboratories and clinics, trainees will also receive a comprehensive course in Research Methodology with NEI-specific journal clubs coordinated and directed by the PD/PI and participation in a works-in-progress vision science seminar series. The program described in this application will employ the outstanding faculty and resources already in place at UT Southwestern that are focused in areas of NEI interest. This program will serve as a focal point to further enrich medical student research activities in the vision sciences at UT Southwestern and will enhance existing elements of NEI-funded research on campus.
In the last four decades, the great strides made in biomedical research has made training the next generation of physician scientists a critical element needed to translate biomedical discoveries into new therapies capable of treating and preventing human disease. The goal of the T35 NEI Summer Research Program is to identify highly-qualified pre-doctoral students (medical students) and educate them to pose scholarly questions and design methods of answering those questions to continue to advance the science of medicine through a mentored research experience and in-class educational opportunities.