K12 Program at Stanford

The Department of Ophthalmology at Stanford University, housed at the Byers Eye Institute, is one of the premier institutions in the world for patient care and education, and over the last 6 years has grown its research program into a top-10 NEI-funded department of ophthalmology. Last year, the department saw 133 active awards from Federal, non-profit, and private sources, with 30 of those awards stemming from direct NIH support. We have rapidly increased in national ranking, most recently ranking #6 nationally (Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research) with $9.0 million in NIH funding in 2019. Other departments within the Stanford vision research community also carry a significant amount of NEI grant funding. Our 46 department faculty participate in important basic, translational, clinical, and device-driven research to identify effective ways to treat patients and restore vision. Our department is well-equipped to successfully support the K12 trainees.

A critical mission of the Stanford Department of Ophthalmology is to train clinician-scientist leaders in ophthalmology. This is already seen in our track record of the development of multidisciplinary research training programs for clinician-scientists that provide effective approaches to understanding the diagnosis, pathogenesis, and therapy of eye disease. To this end, our proposed K12 program creates a comprehensive environment where leading researchers across the Stanford scientific community will be able to mentor vision research Scholars in their career development goals. With the leadership and expertise of Department Chair and Professor Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD, the goal of the program is to facilitate career development and a path to independent success for junior clinician-scientists engaged in vision research by providing them the necessary resources and mentoring community needed to grow in their career goals and experience, as well as promoting innovation and collaboration towards transformative vision research.

The program will cover a broad range of vision research themes, and each Scholar will be part of a multidisciplinary mentor group that will be available to support and guide the trainees. Each faculty awardee supported by the K12 will receive from the Department the salary portion not covered by the Ophthalmology K12 Program, assistance with startup costs for research, and office and relevant research space. K12 Scholars will typically spend 1-2 years in the program, undertaking didactic instruction respective to their research area, working with a lead Preceptor and co-mentors in a program that builds not only practical skills needed to achieve funding and collaboration, but also skills in research ethics and leadership. Initially, the Preceptor will be expected to supervise the Scholar’s progress closely to ensure that they use appropriate and rigorous methods, analysis, and interpretation. The Preceptor will then allow Scholars to take on an increasingly independent role in formulating hypotheses, deciding on alternative methods, designing, and conducting experiments, solving problems, and presenting outcomes. The Preceptor will also provide within his/her laboratory opportunities for the Scholar to pursue their own line of research. By the end of the K12 program, each Scholar will exit with mentored (K08, K23) or independent (R-series) funding. We are excited to bring this successful, enduring program to the Stanford Ophthalmology Department and the broader Stanford vision research community with the help of the NEI.