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BEBRF Fellowship Program

Overview

Blepharospasm, a form of focal dystonia, is a chronic, unremitting, bilateral, forcible closure of the eyelids. Sometimes the spasms that start in the eyelid muscles extend further down into the lower face, causing uncontrolled contractions of the jaw or tongue. This condition is called oromandibular dystonia (Meige Syndrome). Blepharospasm is a rare disease with the incidence from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 25,000, but it is related to other adult onset focal dystonias such as cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis), spasmodic dysphonia and focal hand dystonia (such as writer's and musician's cramp). Physicians and scientists who are knowledgeable about these conditions are needed and a fellowship training program will address this need by training and encouraging young investigators.

The Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation (BEBRF) is pleased to offer a research fellowship to support the training of exceptionally qualified physicians or scientists who wish to focus on blepharospasm with and without oromandibular dystonia. Fellowships will be awarded in the amount of up to $75,000 per year for two years. The training program should focus on research into new treatments, pathophysiology or the genetics of benign essential blepharospasm and oromandibular dystonia. Research into photophobia, dry eye, and apraxia of the eyelid opening as they relate to benign essential blepharospasm and oromandibular dystonia will also be considered for funding. Involvement in the activities of the Dystonia Coalition and participation in one or more annual BEBRF Symposiums will also be required.

Physician applicants must be board certified or board eligible in neurology or ophthalmology, have completed a residency, and hold or be able to hold an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States. PhDs should have completed their degree. Applicants will need to describe their research plans in detail, and clinicians will need to describe their clinical training as well. Applicants must select a mentor at an institution who will be willing to sponsor the applicant and will help develop a training program for the fellow. The institution must provide information on their training environment, program curriculum, and available resources. Non-U.S. citizens working at institutions either in the USA or abroad are also eligible to apply for a fellowship.

Deadline to apply for this year's fellowship is June 30, 2014 for a fellowship to begin approximately on July 1, 2015. Decisions will be announced on August 31, 2014. Applications must be submitted via e-mail to bebrf@blepharospasm.org.

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