Patient Care Bio
Primate Retinal Ganglion Cells
My research examines the role of retinal ganglion cells in visual perception in the primate (human and macaque). The primate retina contains at least 14 different types of retinal ganglion cells, and each type forms a complete network across the retina. Because the size, shape andprojections of each of the cell types is distinctive, it is thought that they may play quite different and possibly independent roles invisual function,but at present relatively little is known about this question. Some clues about possible functions of different ganglion cell classes comes from their structure (some extend across large swaths of retina, while others get input from tiny regions of retina), their physiology (some ganglion cells respond to color, while others are color blind), and their projections into the brain (some ganglion cells project to visual cortex while others reach the superchiasmatic nucleus, which is thought to be important in diurnal rythyms).
I have used a wide range of experimental methods to examine ganglion cells including psychophysical testing of vision in macaque and humans, electrophysiology and study of the effects of visual system lesions in macaques and humans. Most recently, in collaboration with David Williams, PhD, at the University of Rochester I have been using in vivo adaptive optics imaging to generate near micron scale images of retinal cells and blood vessels. I have also been collaborating with John Flannery, PhD, at the University of California, Berkeley, to use viral vectors to insert gene products into retinal ganglion cells, in order to further explore their function. An ongoing project with Richard Libby, PhD, examines changes in retinal vasculature, ganglion cells and nerve fiber layer caused by glaucoma. Projects with Shakeel Shareef, MD, use search eye movements and adaptive optics imaging to examine the retina of glaucoma patients.