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Two years after the launch of the innovative ForWard Curriculum at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences continues to advance medical student opportunities in vision research with the introduction of a robust research elective.

The new, basic-science selects course, Ophthalmology 911, “Introduction to the Visual System,” was added to the medical student curriculum in March of 2019. This month-long course was blended and consisted of four modules: lectures, research paper presentations, a research project, and one day per week in the clinic.

Four medical students completed the inaugural course. Each student spent one week on each of the four modules, ultimately rotating through all four. The modules are disease-based and included age-related macular degeneration and ocular imaging; glaucoma; retinal vascular disease; and immunology, infectious disease and corneal disease.

Barbara Blodi, MD, Curtis Brandt, PhD, Amitha Domalpally, MD, PhD, Robert Nickells, PhD, and Nader Sheibani, PhD, served as the course instructors. Clinical education leaders Daniel Knoch, MD, and Andrew Thliveris, MD, PhD, worked with the researchers to develop the first iteration of the elective. Dr. Brandt was the course director.

We [the course instructors] were excited to see that the medical students truly enjoyed the course, including the more basic science components. Hopefully this introduces ophthalmology and vision research to them as a potential research or clinical career path.