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by Nathan Anderson

Swetha Ravichandran, a Vision Science Graduate Program (VSGP) student, has been awarded a two-year fellowship by the Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama Lindy Harrell Predoctoral Scholar Program. The award, which totals $50,000, provides a $24,500 stipend and $500 travel grant annually.

“I was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed on receiving this award,” Ravichandran said. “I am honored and grateful for the opportunities UAB has provided me and I am thankful for the acknowledgement of my efforts.”

This is a focused program for predoctoral students in basic and translational approaches to Alzheimer’s disease. The emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease will enable students to take leading roles in therapeutic discovery across the spectrum of different skill sets and enterprises.  

Ravichandran, who is involved with Alzheimer’s disease research, believes that more can be done to help neurodegeneration since we are heading towards a society with increased life expectancy.

“Having watched my grandfather battle Alzheimer’s disease, further stirred my longing to tread towards this journey,” she said. “As a doctoral student, I am now focused on exploring novel ocular biomarkers which could help in the diagnosis of preclinical neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease in my lab. Further, I wish to address major gaps in the field of ocular diagnostics and biomarkers to help the society through the application of my research findings.”

Prior to being accepted into the VSGP, Ravichandran completed her bachelor's in optometry from the Elite School of Optometry, and master's in optometry from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India.  

She decided to earn her doctorate in vision science due to her fascination with the human eye. The intricacy and complexities of the human eye drove her curiosity to discover and gain a more comprehensive understanding of its nature.

“For us to comprehend the eyes, there is a need for greater clarity on its pathophysiology despite decades of exploration,” Ravichandran said. “That is why I decided to pursue research and earn my doctorate in vision science to make significant contributions to the advancement of vision care and treatment.”

After completing her doctorate, Ravichandran plans to pursue a career in education using her knowledge on evidence-based practice to train and enhance the next generation of optometrists.