Support for our endeavors
comes primarily from the
National Institutes of Health

Retina, Retinal Degenerations & Neovascularization Investigators

Rajendra Apte, MD, PhD (Immunology)

Innate immunity and immune effector mechanisms in the retina; oxidative stress and cell death; models of developmental angiogenesis and neovascularization; inflammation and photoreceptor survival; macular degeneration

Shiming Chen, PhD (Cell/Molecular Biology)

The major goal of our laboratory research is to identify the molecular mechanism(s) regulating photoreceptor gene expression in the mammalian retina and the implications of these mechanisms for understanding photoreceptor degenerative diseases and developing therapeutic treatments for these diseases.

Joseph Corbo, MD, PhD (Cell/Molecular Biology)

Retinal photoreceptors are the first point of interaction between our nervous system and the outside world, transforming incoming light into electrical signals which are then integrated by the rest of the visual system into an image of our surroundings. Our lab studies the systems biology of photoreceptors. Specifically, we are interested in the transcriptional regulatory networks that underlie the development, evolution, and diseases of photoreceptors in the retina. We are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of how a network of transcription factors orchestrates the expression of distinct cohorts of downstream genes to build this complex micromachine, the photoreceptor cell.

Thomas Ferguson, PhD (Immunology)

The laboratory studies the role of autophagy in the pathogenesis of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We are pursuing this by creating mice in which basal autophagy is deleted in specific cell types in the eye. Recently we found that a link between the autophagy machinery, phagocytosis of photoreceptor outer segments, and the regeneration of chromophore by the visual cycle in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

Didier Hodzic, PhD (Cell Biology)

My laboratory focuses on LINC complexes (Linkers of the Nucleoskeleton to the Cytoskeleton), a family of macromolecular assemblies of the nuclear envelope that physically connects the nucleus to the surrounding cytoskeleton. LINC complexes assemble through the interaction between two families of proteins, Sun proteins, a family of inner nuclear membrane (INM) proteins whose N-terminal region protrudes in the nucleoplasm interacts with the nuclear lamina and Nesprins, a family of outer nuclear membrane (ONM) proteins whose N-terminal region interacts with cytoskeletal components such as actin and plectin.

Vladimir Kefalov, PhD (Physiology)

We use a wide range of techniques for the investigation of photoreceptor physiology, including single-cell rod and cone recordings, ex vivo whole retina recordings, in vivo electroretinogram (ERG) recordings, optokinetic behavioral tests, and genetic manipulations.

Daniel Kerschensteiner, MD (Physiology)

We would like to understand the principles that guide the assembly of neural circuits and to decipher the way they process information.  Our efforts concentrate on the mammalian retina.  We use transgenic and ballistic gene delivery to fluorescently label specific neurons and connections in this circuit, and follow their development using confocal and two-photon imaging

Peter Lukasiewicz, PhD (Physiology)

We are interested in understanding the synaptic interactions underlying visual information processing. The vertebrate retina is ideally suited for studying synaptic interactions. It is an accessible part of the central nervous system, which can be stimulated physiologically with light. The laboratory studies how synaptic signals mediated by subtypes of GABA and glutamate receptors are shaped in specific retinal circuits. A major interest is in how excitatory signals mediated by glutamate are affected by receptor properties and uptake mechanisms.

Florentina Soto, PhD (Physiology)

Studies in my laboratory aim to determine the role of ATP-mediated (purinergic) neurotransmission in the mammalian retina. The retina is an ideal model system to study purinergic transmission in the context of a central nervous system for the following reasons: 1) The retinal circuit architecture is well characterized and readily accessible to a variety of imaging techniques, 2) genetic tools to manipulate key components of this circuit in a cell-types specific manner are available, 3) responses of retinal neurons to their natural stimulus (light) can be elicited with great precision and measured using electrophysiological methods and, 4) One of the receptor families activated by extracellular ATP, P2X receptors, is widely expressed in the retina.

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The Vision Research Community at Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University School of Medicine
660 S.Euclid Ave., St. Louis, Missouri 63110
Campus Box 8096, McMillian Building, St. Louis, Missouri 63110