The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy
We are analyzing the primate retinal connectome, a project supported by the National Eye Institute and the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. The goal is to describe the neural circuits in the baboon retina at the level of synaptic connections between identified types of neurons. This is critical for understanding the first steps in normal human vision and the mechanisms underlying visual disorders. The techniques we are developing should also prove useful for mapping the brain. We will identify each type of neuron based on its levels of various amino acids and an activity-dependent label using light microscopic immunolabeling of serial sections through the nuclear layers. Then the synaptic connections of each type of neuron will be described using serial ultrathin sections though the plexiform layers. The sections have been cut already, and they are being labeled and imaged by my collaborator, Dr. Robert Marc. All of our work will be done on computers using stacks of registered images, but students working on the project will learn all of the skills necessary for this type of work, including activity-dependent labeling in vitro, electron microscopy and immunolabeling. Students interested in this project should enroll in the Vision Track of the Neuroscience Program and do a rotation in my laboratory, preferably in the Winter or Spring, when I have fewer teaching responsibilities. Students would also attend seminars and the weekly Vision Journal Club. U.S. citizens or permanent residents would be eligible for support from the Houston Area Vision Training Grant.
Education & Training
PhD, University of California-Los Angeles, 1982