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Vision and Retinal Diseases

At the basic end of the spectrum (pun intended), Dr. Hong-Sheng Li studies the role of glial cells in neurotransmission within the retina of fruit flies, while Dr. Patrick Emery studies the mechanisms by which fruit fly circadian rhythms are synchronized to environmental rhythmicity, including daily rhythms of light and temperature. Emery also studies mechanisms of circadian rhythm generation in flies, while Dr. David Weaver studies circadian rhythms in mice, focusing on the impact of lighting cycles that disrupt circadian rhythms on physiological and disease.  

Drs. Hemant Khanna and Claudio Punzo study mechanisms leading to loss of vision in animal models.  Khanna’s focus is on cell biology of retinal photoreceptor cells and how they are disturbed in “ciliopathies,” diseases affecting cells, like rods and cones, that have cilia.  Punzo’s focus is on age-related macular degeneration, defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which rods and cones affect degeneration in the retina, and the use of gene therapy in the retina. 

Dr. Shlomitt Schaal conducts translational studies developing Optical Coherence Tomography methods to detect and monitor retinal cell loss in disease states including diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, mechanisms of retinal disease, and improved retinal surgical approaches.