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Mass. Eye and Ear receives NEI grant renewal for 'growing' clinical/scientists

Boston (May 10, 2010) - The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology, has been awarded a grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute (NEI), to recruit, train and support first-rate clinician scientists to promote translational and clinical research into cures for eye disease.

The NEI renewed a five-year K12 grant to Mass. Eye and Ear (representing the HMS Department of Ophthalmology) this week to fund the Harvard Vision Clinical Scientist Development Program. This program provides financial support, protected research time, mentorship and didactic training to a select group of research-oriented junior clinician-scientists who have recently completed their fellowship programs.

In exchange for considerable salary and development support, candidates are required to spend at least 75% of their efforts on research and development, including potentially receipt of advanced degrees. The Harvard Vision Clinical Scientist Research Program is directed by Reza Dana, M.D. (Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Mass Eye and Ear Cornea Service) administered by Mass. Eye and Ear (on behalf of all the different components/academic units of Harvard Ophthalmology), and guided by a Program Advisory Committee comprised of faculty from the ophthalmology divisions at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and other Harvard institutions, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

"This program allows us to leverage the considerable strengths we have at our many Harvard Institutions (namely our faculty, research and teaching programs) to offer a unique mentored learning and career development program to trainees," said Dr. Miller, Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "This mechanism helps us to identify, recruit and train the best and brightest junior faculty who will become productive physician scientist leaders of the future while enriching the research programs of the HMS Department of Ophthalmology and potentially countless individuals who suffer from eye disease."

Dr. Dana, the Program Director, is pleased to see this important program funded again by the NIH. "We are extremely gratified about this award for several reasons. The current educational and patient care needs of most large academic hospitals are not designed for optimizing the training of clinician-scientists, since the latter requires a structured program and protected time designed exclusively for in-depth commitment to research. The Harvard Department of Ophthalmology, with nearly 130 full-time clinical and research faculty, is not only one of the largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the U.S., indeed in the world, but the breadth and depth that its faculty and research laboratories apply to virtually all aspects of vision research is unparalleled. This program will assist us in simultaneously attracting and retaining the best and brightest young minds in clinical ophthalmology who are committed to research, while maintaining our rich tradition of excellence in patient care and research," said Dr. Dana.

He emphasized, "Our future growth and success will depend on our capacity to continually innovate. In addition, this program will play an important role in our capacity to strengthen our commitment to two pillars of our mission, education and research."


Contact: Mary Leach
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

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