The overall mission of the research enterprise within the Ophthalmology Department is to provide the intellectual environment and physical support system that optimally fosters new discoveries in basic and applied eye research.
Towards that goal we have identified specific areas of vision research strength reflecting a critical number of stably funded investigators with shared interests (both within the department as well as in collaboration with other College of Medicine faculty). These areas include: gene and neurotrophic factor therapy for retinal degenerative disease, cell and gene therapies for diabetic retinal disease, therapies for corneal disease and wound healing, and the cell biology of photoreceptors and the corneal endothelium. Our philosophy is that the Department can most effectively serve these research strengths by providing state-of-the-art instrumentation and services through a series of conveniently located and free or low cost core facilities. With this philosophy in mind, we have supply four Vision Research Core with the hardware and personnel infrastructure necessary for users to take maximum advantage of the latest technology with a minimum of individual retooling and expense. These Modules include: 1. Cell and Tissue Culture/Immunology, 2. Molecular Genetics, 3. Structural Biology/Histology, and 4. In-Life Ocular Analysis. This infrastructure takes advantage of the stable, the long-term support by the Department and core NEI funding through the P30 mechanism that has been in place for the past 25 years. As core modules by their nature require sharing of specialized equipment among various labs, they foster real time one-on-one communication between vision researchers at the bench level. Additionally, by continually updating facilities and techniques, availability to these cores makes state-of-the-art approaches to solving research problems in vision available to all researchers.
To foster a vital and dynamic intellectual environment for vision research the Department ,through its Center for Vision Research, promotes the interaction of faculty, staff and students through seminars and multi-day minisymposia. Over the past ten years, thirteen vision-related minisymposia have held that are designed to provide an in-depth view of a currently hot vision research area have been held. Topics vary to reflect the Department’s broad interests. In addition, a seminar series is supported that invites nationally and internationally-recognized researchers interspersed with our own intramural researchers. There have been over 110 seminars during over the past five years.
In summary, Ophthalmology’s environment of vital intellectual interchange coupled with unencumbered access to the latest instrumentation and biological services through a series of subsidized cores has allowed the vision research enterprise to thrive at the University of Florida.