Faculty in the Department of Ophthalmology have developed a unique vision science course designed to augment the training of graduate students working in research labs on the IUPUI campus. A one-of-a-kind offering at Indiana University, Biology of the Visual System (OPHT-V783) is an elective course focused on the biochemical, molecular and cell biological basis of vision.
The course, which launches in January, is targeted to graduate students joining the research labs at the Glick Eye Institute and other labs engaged in vision science research at IUPUI. The course also may appeal to students interested in other sensory systems, such as researchers in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and hearing sciences, and to neuroscience students with a desire to understand the basics of how neurons work. In addition, pharmacology and toxicology graduate students will benefit from the course’s discussion of how eye disease therapeutics are developed.
Course Co-Director Yoshikazu Imanishi, PhD, MSC, BSC, associate professor of ophthalmology, said the course was designed so that students will apply what they learn to their work in the research labs and their graduate studies.
“To create the course, we started thinking about what students may want to learn or need to learn to have systematic knowledge of the ocular system,” Dr. Imanishi said “Students who join labs do very specific things—where it’s more about how a unique aspect of the visual system works—but if they know how different parts of the eye are interconnected, they can learn more about the unique system they are working on.”
Curriculum to draw on faculty expertise
Course topics are based heavily on the research strengths of ophthalmology faculty, which include research related to macular degeneration and other retinal disorders, glaucoma, and genetic conditions that cause blindness and other diseases. The course also will delve into the eye’s anatomic structure, photoreceptors, neural processing in the retina, visual processing in the brain, and the structure and function of the cornea and lens. Ocular pharmacology, advances in ocular stem cell-based therapy and retina prosthetics also will be covered. Ten ophthalmology faculty members will present course lectures related to their individual areas of expertise.
“What is most beneficial about this course is that we have plenty of basic research scientists in our department who are doing cutting-edge research,” said Padmanabhan Pattabiraman, PhD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, and course co-director. “One of the aims is to let students learn what kind of new and emerging technologies are used to understand the visual system, so we will cover those topics for students to learn how the system is dissected and studied.”
Dr. Pattabiraman believes the course is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for graduate students to learn about vision science from leading experts in the field at IU School of Medicine.
“There is no textbook that can bring all this together for students—attending this course is the best way to learn about the complete spectrum of the visual sciences,” he said. “And because a course like this doesn’t exist on our campus, students have something really new and different to look forward to.”
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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