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The discovery of a novel inner retinal photoreceptor cell, driving non-visual functions, has had a significant impact on the retinal neuroscience field. My research focuses on understanding the physiology and function of these photosensitive retinal ganglion cells.

Retinal cell biology and degeneration
Light evoked calcium signal in a photosensitive retinal ganglion cell.

Overview

Over the past 200 years the vertebrate retina has been characterized extensively. However, the discovery just over 10 years ago of a novel photoreceptor cell in the inner retina has had a significant impact on retinal neuroscience research.

Research

These photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) express the photopigment melanopsin and primarily drive non-image-forming visual functions including circadian photoentrainment and the pupil light reflex.

My early research physiologically characterised the photosensitive RGCs using a calcium imaging technique. We identified multiple physiological phenotypes of this photoreceptor cell class. We described the early developmental emergence of light sensitivity in the melanopsin expressing cells, prior to the onset of visual responses. We also investigated the phototransduction cascade associated with melanopsin and identified the involvement of transient receptor potential ion channels.

My research group is currently involved in identifying novel retinal circuits regulated by melanopsin RGCs and the role of these cells in retinal disease.

Selected publications