Visual Sciences

20210816 230011000 Ios

Denise Inman, PhD, Graduate Advisor

Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building 534 | E-mail:

Graduate Faculty: Acharya, Clark, Ellis, Inman, Karamichos, Krishnamoorthy, Liu, Millar, Mozdbar, Stankowska, Tovar-Vidales, Wu, Zode.

Vision is one of the most important senses of the human body. Although our knowledge of eye diseases has greatly advanced, the leading causes of vision loss and blindness, such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy still affect hundreds of millions of people. Therefore, prevention and treatment of these eye diseases are of tremendous importance, the success of which depends on the elucidation of disease mechanisms.

Vision science is the study of the physiology and pathology of the visual system, which includes the eye, its appendages, as well as the visual cortex of the brain. This delicate system is extremely sensitive to aging, genetic disorders, infection, and injuries. Vision scientists combine neuroscience, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and electrophysiology techniques with ocular cell, tissue and animal models to study the visual system under normal or disease conditions.

The research of our current faculty focuses on eye diseases including glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Their research areas cover trabecular meshwork pathology, aqueous humor dynamics, retinal ganglion protection and regeneration, ocular responses to steroids, ocular genetic diseases, corneal biology, retinal pigment cell protection, oxidative stress and gene therapy. Faculty research is funded by extramural sources including the National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Defense, The Bright Focus Foundation, Glaucoma Research Foundation, The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Fight for Sight, as well as pharmaceutical companies.

Students may enter the discipline with a variety of academic backgrounds, providing that they have fulfilled prerequisite courses. The graduate training program involves basic courses in cell biology, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, immunology and pharmacology, as well as advanced courses in specific vision science topics. Besides lectures, students have the opportunity to participate in seminars, journal clubs and clinical shadowing in techniques of contemporary vision research as well as clinical diagnosis and treatment. Students perform original publishable research, and present their research findings at local, national, and/or international scientific conferences. In addition, students present their research at the annual HSC Research Appreciation Day (RAD) and during the weekly institutional Works in Progress (WIPs). About two years are required to complete the Master of Science degree. Approximately four to five years are required to complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree. However, the actual time required for graduation depends on students’ academic performance, which is determined by the major professor and advisory committee.

Graduates with advanced degrees find employment in higher education, industry and government agencies.

Stipend and benefits for PhD students

All students in our PhD in Biomedical Sciences program receive a benefits package that includes a stipend of $30,000 per year plus full tuition, fees, and health insurance. Students also have opportunities to apply for training grants, fellowships, and scholarships.