Vision Research Training Program (VRTP)

The University of Michigan has a long tradition of excellence in vision research and in training vision scientists.

Our NIH-funded Vision Research Training Program (VRTP) provides financial support and training for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who seek careers in vision science. Those selected by the VRTP will work with outstanding scientists in vision research. Trainees will benefit from Michigan’s multidisciplinary research environment and the diverse range of projects available.

The VRTP provides a stipend, tuition, and health insurance to trainees who undertake their research in the laboratory of a member of the Training Faculty. The VRTP also supports travel to the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

How to Apply

Graduate students must first be admitted into one of the following University of Michigan graduate programs: Biomedical EngineeringBiomedical Sciences, or Molecular,Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB); and then accepted into the laboratory of one of the Training Faculty. Students should apply for VRTP support in the spring of their second year of graduate school.  VRTP funding begins after a graduate student passes prelims and achieves candidacy for the Ph.D. 

Candidates for postdoctoral positions in the VRTP should contact a member of the Training Faculty directly.  Candidates must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States.

VRTP Faculty and Research Focus 

Pathology of diabetic retinopathy
Formation and loss of the blood-brain and blood-retinal barrier in normal vascular biology, diabetes and cancer
Effects of waking experiences and sleep on neural circuits
Mechanisms of retinal cell death in neurodegenerative disorders such as diabetes
Genetics of eye development and disease
Prevention, treatment and clinical research of diabetic retinopathy
Retinal regeneration
Neuronal development, injury and regeneration in the retina
Ion channels in the retinal pigment epithelium
Biology and developmental genetics of extraocular muscles and neural crest-derived stem cells in the orbit
Novel retinal imaging systems, therapeutic techniques and technologies
Graves' disease, thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy, metabolic diseases
Molecular studies of the retinal pigment epithelium
Neurogenesis and cell fate in the central nervous system
Clinical application of photoacoustic imaging
Retinal cells and circuits that regulate non-image-forming visual responses
How sensory inputs are perceived by the nervous system; how neural circuits process information to generate behavior; and how genes and drugs of abuse regulate these processes
Mechanisms underlying photoreceptor cell death and degeneration during retinal disease

Current Trainees Supported by the VRTP

  • Carlos Puentes, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology (MCDB), Anton Lab
  • Carla Ramos, Cellular & Molecular Biology, Antonetti Lab
  • Bing Ross, PhD, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Zacks Lab
  • Nick Silva, Neuroscience Program, Hitchcock Lab