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UIC-NEI K12/Independent Clinician Vision Scientist (ICVS) Development Program

Inherent in the NEI mission is the application of knowledge gained through research to benefit those who suffer from diseases of the eye and disorders of vision. Because such translational research focuses on preventing disease and developing new treatments and diagnoses for disease, the success of this endeavor requires multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches. However, many clinicians lack experience and knowledge in the design and execution of such approaches. Such approaches are facilitated by collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians, each of which have unique skill sets, and are essential for more rapid translational advancement of treatments. The UIC-NEI K12/Independent Clinician Vision Scientist (ICVS) Development Program was established to narrow the gap between basic research and its application to vision-related diseases by training clinicians in the conceptualization and methodology of research.

Accomplishments Heading link

The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences/Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary is a nationally-ranked and world-renowned center of ophthalmology research and clinical practice. It has a long, tradition of excellence in vision research and in training clinician-scientists. Over the past three decades, the ophthalmology department has been a leading recipient of funding from the National Eye Institute (NEI) and is ranked 1st in funding by NIH in the Midwestern United States and Chicago metropolitan area.

Collaboration Heading link

Vision research is supported by many sponsored programs, including a Core Grant for Vision Research and a Clinician Scientist Training Grant both from the National Eye Institute. The basic sciences represented in the Department include:

  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Chemistry and biochemistry
  • Electrophysiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology
  • Genomics
  • Physics
  • Physiology and psychophysics

Program Overview Heading link

The UIC-NEI K12/ICVS Development Program provides an academically-rich and supportive environment to enable qualified clinician vision scientists to engage in a structured and mentored learning experience that will facilitate career advancement and enable trainees to promote their development to fully independent positions in the broad areas of patient-orientated, translational and basic research. The program will offer customized and structured training that will include didactic coursework, mentored research and career development in the trainee’s area of interest. It is designed to prepare clinically-trained vision scientists for independent research careers.


The program is funded by a National Eye Institute-supported K12 award. We are one of six ophthalmology departments that have received this award.

A customized program

The UIC-NEI K12/Independent Clinician Vision Scientist (ICVS) Development Program will be centered in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the College of Medicine at UIC. One or two trainees will be selected by the ICVS Advisory Committee. In consultation with the Lead Mentor and review by the Program Director, each trainee will develop a 1 to 3 year program consisting of didactic training and mentored research experiences that will have the objective of their career development into independent investigators.

It is expected that successful candidates will follow one of two tracks:

Track 1

This track will primarily involve laboratory-based research and will provide scholars with the knowledge, tools and resources to study fundamental mechanisms, pathogenesis and treatment of vision-related diseases.

Track 2

This track will primarily involve clinical and patient-orientated research and will provide scholars with knowledge and tools in epidemiology, health service, biostatistics, bioethics and regulatory protocols to develop a research project.

After completion of the program, the trainees will have the capabilities to identify important research questions, and have the skills to develop an independent research program to address these questions.

Benefits of the program to trainees

Candidates accepted into the program will be provided with 75% protected time and up to 75% salary support and research expenses. Candidates accepted into the program will have to commit to at least 75% of their time to the program and up to 25% to clinical and surgical activity.

Mentorship and multidisciplinary collaboration

Those selected to participate in the program will be mentored and collaborate with outstanding, established investigators in clinical, translational and basic research. Mentors will guide and advise trainees on actions necessary for developing a successful research program, establishing collaborations, obtaining funding and professional development. The multidisciplinary research environment at UIC and associated campuses will provide successful candidates with an opportunity to develop a unique research program that fits their needs. Members from basic science and clinical departments, engineering and public health will participate in training of the candidates. The extent of the coursework will depend on the educational background of the trainee.

Advanced degree programs

Successful candidates will also have the option of enrolling in advanced degree (MS, MPH, PhD) programs at UIC.

Application Information Heading link

Please read this information thoroughly before applying.

The UIC-NEI K12/ICVS Development Program scholar position is a junior faculty appointment. Candidates must have a clinical doctorate (MD, MD/PhD, OD) and be committed to a career in basic, clinical, or translational research related to vision health. Candidates must commit 75% of full-time effort to UIC-NEI K12/ICVS Development Program activities.

Citizenship requirements

Scholars must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and have proof thereof.

Grant recipients

Candidates who are currently or have been previously supported by NIH R01, R29, P01, P50, P60, U54, K-series grants, or other equivalent research awards are not eligible for this program, but PIs on small or developmental NIH grants are eligible. Additionally, career development programs in which scholars propose to conduct a new, free-standing clinical trial or clinical study will not be eligible for this program.

The University of Illinois at Chicago is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

  1. Interested candidates should send a letter of interest to the Co-PI and Co-Program Directors: Ali Djalilian, MD ( and Charlotte Joslin, OD, PhD (
  2. An application packet that describes the UIC-NEI K12/ICVS Development Program, mentors and ongoing research activities with an application form will be sent.
  3. Following review of the application by the Advisory Committee, selected candidates will be contacted for evaluation and discussion of relevant research opportunities at UIC.
  4. Successful candidates will have a junior faculty appointment and be enrolled in the program for a period up to 3 years. This is dependent on satisfactory progress in their research activities.

Positions for the UIC-NEI K12/ICVS Development Program will be available for July 1 of the next academic year based on grant funding. It is expected that 1 to 2 positions will be available each year.

Candidates will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Commitment to becoming an independent research investigator
  • Ability to clearly articulate a strong educational and research plan that is consistent with departmental research priorities
  • Ability to propose primary and secondary mentors, who have research interests in the candidates area of interest and are committed to mentorship
  • Strong record of accomplishments as evidenced by publications and letters of recommendations
  • Favorable consideration will be given to scholars who can enhance the diversity of the UIC-NEI K12/ICVS Development Program