Fellowship Programs

Fellowship Training Program

The Ocular Surface Research & Education Foundation offers individual fellowship programs to researchers who are interested in basic research or clinical treatments of ocular surface diseases with various durations. There are two types of programs offered:

  1. Domestic Post-Doctoral Specialists
  2. Special Fellowship Training Program for Foreign Exchange Visitors

In 2002 the Ocular Surface Research & Education Foundation was designated by the U.S. Department of State as a sponsor of an Exchange Visitor Program (P-3-6131). Authority for the Exchange Visitor Program derives from the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Public Law 87-256) as amended, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act. The purpose of the Act is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges.

Through the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP), foreign nationals may visit the United States temporarily to teach, lecture, study, observe, conduct research, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills and then return home to share their experiences.

It is essential that both sponsors and exchange visitors comply with the Exchange Visitor Program regulations. The regulations appear in Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 62.

[Click here to download Exchange Visitor Program Regulations (22 CFR Part 62)] For specific details on the Exchange Visitor Program, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State, please visit the following website: http://www.exchanges.state.gov

Fellowship Overview

Objectives

The postdoctoral fellowship is designed to provide state-of-the-art training in the newly established subspecialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of ocular surface diseases. Fellows completing this training will gain new knowledge and skills in the clinical diagnosis and treatment of ocular surface disorders while developing the independent thinking necessary to conduct basic and clinical research.

Spirit

The ultimate spirit of the fellowship program is to promote ever-lasting learning habits. OSREF is founded in the belief that there are no limits to what can be learned and this principle is embedded in all facets of this fellowship. The curriculum is tailored to each individual fellow's goals. If there is a certain skill or knowledge not available within OSREF, it is our intention to make it available through collaboration or outsourcing with other entities in the scientific or industrial communities.

Type of EVP Programs & Duration

OSREF is able to complete the objectives of the Exchange Visitor Program by offering qualified foreigners two program categories: research scholar and short-term scholars.

Research Scholar:

As participants in this program category, foreign research scholars engage in research, teaching, and lecturing with their American colleagues.

The duration of this fellowship requires one to five years of training. The starting time can be flexible and tailored to each individual's need. Under special circumstances, the duration of training can be shortened or lengthened. For those individuals who desire in-depth research training and completion of publishable research projects, the duration is advised to be longer than one year.

Short-term scholar:

A short-term scholar is a professor, research scholar, or person with similar education or accomplishments that come to the United States on a short-term visit to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills at a research institution.

The duration of the program is the time needed to complete the objective, up to a maximum of six months. By completion of the program, the scholars are expected to learn through observation of research and clinical activities and review of published data or materials.

Qualifications

The fellowship is offered to individuals with a degree of M.D., Ph.D. or an equivalent degree from within the U.S.A. or abroad without discrimination of age, sex, ethnic, political and religious backgrounds. However, the position of fellowship is limited by the resources available at OSREF. Therefore, the selection of prospective fellows is competitive and based on academic and intellectual merit.

Contents

The fellowship training will consist of a program to achieve the following goals:

A. Review Basic and Clinical Knowledge
Basic and clinical knowledge will include what has been reported in the literature or produced by OSREF in the past. It is worth noting that most of this knowledge has not been well stated in the textbooks or considered "conventional". Literature will be systemically reviewed within a calendar year through weekly seminars given by the Research Director or assigned fellow(s). These presentations will be posted as a part of the educational program. Fellows who participate in this program are expected to acquire the updated knowledge of the subjects, learn how to present the information effectively, develop critical analysis skills, and furnish his/her collection of teaching slides upon completion. The subjects that will be covered include but not limited to:

  • Important Concepts of Ocular Surface Health
  • Diagnostic strategies of Ocular Surface and Tear Disorders: An Integrated Approach
  • Disorders Related to Lacrimal Glands Leading to Aqueous Tear Deficiency
  • Disorders Related to Meibomian Glands Leading to Lipid Tear Deficiency
  • Differential Diagnosis of Aqueous and Lipid Tear Deficiency
  • Disorders Related to Ocular Sensitivity Leading to Neurotrophic Keratopathy
  • Disorders Related to Lid Blinking: Excessive or Insufficiency
  • Disorders Related to Tear Clearance
  • New Paradigm for Wound Healing of Ocular Surface
  • Inflammation and Immune Dysregulation
  • Regulation of Epithelial Stem Cells
  • Corneal Diseases with Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
  • Therapeutic Strategies of Ocular Surface and Tear Disorders, especially with respect to Non-specific Ocular Irritation
  • Pterygium: New Understanding of Pathogenesis and Surgical Techniques
  • Limbal Stem Cell Transplantation: Autografts and Allografts
  • New Strategies of Ocular Surface Reconstruction: Part 1: To Restore Ocular Surface Defense
  • New Strategies of Ocular Surface Reconstruction: Part 2: To Restore Epithelial Stem Cells
  • New Strategies of Ocular Surface Reconstruction: Part 3: To Restore Stem Cell Niche by Amniotic Membrane Transplantation
  • Ex vivo Expansion of Epithelial Stem Cells
  • Tissue Engineering

B. Search for New Clinical and Basic Science Knowledge
The topics that will be selected are solely dependent on activities of the fellowship, i.e., clinical problems encountered in the clinic, research questions raised during discussion or experiments, and mandatory reviews of most recent key basic and clinical journals. These topics will broaden the understanding of ocular surface health and diseases. These topics will be integrated to the aforementioned weekly seminar.

C. Learn Scientific Methods of Research
It is expected that all fellows will adhere to the following important principles that guide all research conducted with OSREF. First, the ultimate purpose of doing research is to improve one's independent and effective thinking process, and not for a mere publication. Second, research is worth doing only when it carries a sound testable hypothesis and superior novelty (originality). Third, no project will be started without a written protocol, which describes the key elements of Introduction, Hypothesis, Methods, and Expected Results. Fourth, experimentation and data recording will be conducted following the guidelines described in "Good Laboratory Practice". Fifth, results will be analyzed timely and thoroughly before the start of the next experiment.

Fellows are encouraged to read the following articles prior to their arrival regarding Good Research Practice, Experimental Design, Theory of Scientific Discovery, Trials & Tribulations and AM Literature Summary on Uses of AmnioGraft® on Ocular Surface Reconstruction. In addition, Dr. Tseng requires that you read an insightful and outstanding lecture presented by Dr. David Patton entitled "The Virtue of Eye-Magination: Creativity and the Medical Mind".

Good Research Practice
Experimental Design
Theory of Scientific Discovery
Trials & Tribulations
AM Literature Summary
Second Susruta Lecture by Dr. Patton 2008

D. Acquire Clinical Skills
Each fellow is expected to learn how to formulate an integrated and dynamic diagnostic approach for various ocular surface disorders. This is achieved by participating in basic and clinical research projects and by observing in the clinic how each patient has been worked up through sequential steps of diagnostic tests. Each interesting case will be summed up and discussed in a weekly seminar, from which a new research project may be generated. In addition, each fellow is expected to review a library collection of videotapes that show how different surgical procedures are performed for ocular surface reconstruction and a library collection of impression cytology on various ocular surface disorders (both library collections are available at the clinic). Furthermore, the fellow will attend the surgical theater to observe these surgical procedures that are actually performed in patients and their postoperative management. There is no patient contact for foreign fellows.

Financial Support

OSREF generally does not provide any financial support to the fellow during the training program. It is the fellow's responsibility to cover all living and medical related expenses incurred. It is important to describe and provide certified documents to testify that the applicant is financially supported in the application. The financial support may be from a third party whether public or private. Examples of required documents include a certified letter from the authority where the prospective candidate is presently working or is to join upon completion of the fellowship training or a certified letter from a foundation, government or private sponsor.

Under exceptional circumstances, OSREF may provide partial financial support to candidates with limited financial resources and outstanding qualifications. In such instance, a financial request will have to be attached with the original application submission. The Financial Committee has whole discretion to determine financial availability. Proof of financial support is crucial for those candidates from abroad in order for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to issue a valid visa.

Application

All prospective candidates need to submit their application, which includes an essay, describing personal desire for such a training, the career goal, future plan, a curriculum vitae , three recommendation (reference) letters , and copies of the highest degree(s) obtained, and other relevant information.

Fellowship Application Form

OSREF Introduction
EVP Fellowship Training Program Detailed Overview

Application materials can be submitted by mail, fax, or e-mail to:

Ocular Surface Research & Education Foundation
Fellowship Training Program
7000 SW 97th Ave, Suite 212
Miami, FL 33173, USA
Fax: 305-412-5509
E-mail: fellowship@osref.org

Offer

Written response to all submitted applications is issued by the Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer after all application materials have been reviewed by the OSREF Review Committee. In the event of an offer, the letter will certify that the fellowship is officially granted.

Officers

OSREF has appointed Amy Tseng as Responsible Officer and Alberto Darsa as Alternate Responsible Officer for the Exchange Visitor Program. These officers issue the Certificates of Eligibility (Form DS-2019) and conduct official communications with the Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on the exchange visitor's behalf. Should you have questions about the regulations or any aspect of your exchange program, please contact Alberto Darsa at adarsa@biotissue.com.