To meet the healthcare challenges on which the NEI focuses, it is essential that we nurture and build the physician-scientist workforce, preparing medical students from all areas of the US to become tomorrow's researchers. Over the past three decades the University of Utah School of Medicine (UUSOM), which includes the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Moran Eye Center, has built a dynamic research community that addresses the full range of eye-related health issues. Faculty members' grant-funded research spans the continuum of T1-T4 translational science and is supported by numerous institutional programs. A large number of our medical students are interested in eye health, as evidenced by 29% regularly participating in monthly meetings of the medical student-run Ophthalmology Interest Group and 8% of the 2015 graduating class matching in Ophthalmology residency programs. In addition, faculty members have extensive experience in successfully mentoring trainees, helping to build the physician-scientist, and scientifically minded physician, workforce. Thus, the UUSOM is an ideal location to offer outstanding short-term research experiences for medical students. The goal and objectives of the new Medical Student Research Program in Eye Health and Disease (MSRP- EHD) are to: GOAL: Ignite in medical students a life-long interest in conducting or collaborating in research related to the eye, while also building their skills in creative and critical thinking. Objective 1 Engage 6 medical students/year in the exciting foundational, clinical and translational science discoveries taking place at the University of Utah. Trainees will participate in a mentored, 11-week summer research experience between their first and second years of medical school. Objective 2: Stimulate the development of trainees' creative and critical thinking skills through an innovative course that will be part of the summer experience. Objective 3: Encourage each trainee to discover the type of research he or she is most interested in pursuing as a physician. Fifteen faculty mentors have agreed to participate in the program. The PI/PD will be advised by an internal Steering Committee of NEI-funded investigators and SOM Curriculum Committee members. Multiple evaluation strategies will be used to provide formative feedback for program improvement as well as tracking students' career trajectories.
The Medical Student Research Program in Eye Health and Disease at the University Of Utah School Of Medicine will nurture and build the physician-scientist workforce of tomorrow through mentored summer research experiences and an innovative course in creative and critical thinking that focuses on eye-related research.