University or Institution

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Area of Research:

The candidate will be able to select from projects that align with their veterinary clinical and research interests (with opportunities for research focus in pathology, ophthalmology and/or neuroscience) ; participating laboratories are NIH funded, with a strong translational focus. Focus areas include ocular pathology, omics approaches to ocular disease, glaucoma, in vivo electrophysiology/imaging, retinal degeneration and neuroaging.

Primary Mentor:

Dr. Gillian McLellan, BVMS PhD, DACVO, DECVO, DVOphthal,FARVO, Professor ([email protected]), Dr. Freya Mowat, BVSc. PhD, DACVO, DECVO, Assistant Professor ([email protected])

Mentoring Team:

Dr. Leandro Teixeira, DVM, MS, Associate Professor and Director, Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of Wisconsin

Dr. David Gamm, MD, PhD, Associate Professor

Dr. Akihiro Ikeda, DVM, PhD, Professor

Dr. Rob Nickells, PhD, Professor

Dr. Bikash Pattnaik, PhD, Associate Professor

Description of Potential Research Projects:

Research in the McLellan lab ( explores glaucoma pathophysiology and neurodegeneration. Much of the lab’s work centers on naturally occurring canine and feline spontaneous glaucoma, complemented by experimental mouse and in vitro models.  In vivo electrophysiology and imaging complement cutting edge “omics” and more conventional cell and molecular biology approaches are applied to the genetic and experimentally-induced models of glaucoma, optic nerve and retinal disease studied in the lab. Dr. McLellan is an expert in multimodal imaging and is a module director for UW-Madison’s NIH/ NEI-funded Vision Research Core and is a founder member of the recently established Wisconsin Advanced Imaging of the Visual Systems (WAIVS) Lab.

Research in the Mowat lab ( centers on retinal metabolism and aging using relevant animal models. The lab uses sophisticated imaging and electroretinography techniques, histology and genetics to understand how retinal metabolism, structure and function change in the context of aging. Fundamental research goals in the lab include how to maintain a healthy macula into old age, and the definition of mechanisms of susceptibility to age-related macular degeneration, a prevalent and multifactorial blinding disease affecting older adult humans.

Exploration of parallels between biology and pathophysiology of animal and human disease, as well as associations between neuroaging, cognitive decline and ocular disease, is facilitated by the input from numerous on-campus collaborators at UW-Madison. These include experts in comparative ocular pathology (Teixeira), genetics of metabolism and aging (Ikeda), mechanisms of ganglion cell death (Nickells), retinal stem and precursor cells (Gamm), and retinal electrophysiology (Pattnaik).

Additional Training Opportunities:

Fellowship-specific training will be complemented by training programs throughout UW-Madison campus to ensure a well-rounded career development for the candidate. These include:

  1. The Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) is supported by an NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. The institute offers a certificate training program in clinical investigation, and training in the scientific foundations of clinical and translational research.
  2. The McPherson Eye Research Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (DOVS) both offer monthly seminars, annual symposia, endowed lectures, poster sessions, training opportunities in scientific communication and travel scholarships.  DOVS also offers a graduate / post-doctoral level course in Ocular Diseases in the Mammalian Visual System.
  3. UW Madison’s Vision Research Training Program and Comparative Biomedical Sciences Training Program both afford qualified candidates the opportunity to apply for subsequent years of support for graduate studies (towards a PhD) or post-doctoral training at UW-Madison if applicable.
  4. The UW-Madison Vision Research Core is supported by an NIH Core Grant. Four key modules are represented including “Gene Delivery and Quantitative Molecular Biology”, “Pathology and Imaging”, “Animal models and eye organ culture” and “Biostatistics and epidemiology”. Subsidized use and training is provided by these core facilities.
  5. The UW-Madison Biotechnology Center provides services and training and includes resources for bioinformatics, DNA and RNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, gene expression, mass spectrometry and proteomics, genome editing and transgenic animal generation.
  6. The UW-Madison Health Sciences Learning Center provides a comprehensive array of resources to support scholarly activity including the Ebling Library for the Health Sciences which provides training on a range of topics including  citation management, optimized literature searches and evidence-based translational research.
  7. Support for grant writing is extensive on campus, and includes facilities through the UW-Madison Writing Center, an annual NIH Grant-Writing Workshop supported in part by the School of Vetererinary Medicine, and training opportunities on Responsible Conduct of Research.

Fellowships are for 2 years and provide stipend and employee benefits at the NIH post-doctoral pay scale. Fellows may supplement their stipend with up to 25% effort towards clinical work, if such work is in alignment with the research and career development plan.

All fellowships in this cohort will have a start date of fall 2023.

Contact Information for Interested Potential Trainees:

Dr. Gillian McLellan, BVMS PhD, DACVO, Associate Professor ([email protected]) and Dr. Freya Mowat, BVSc. PhD, DACVO, Assistant Professor ([email protected])