Vision and vision restoration
Vision is a key sense for humans, and dysfunction of the visual system leads to visual handicap or blindness. My laboratory aims to find ways to repair visual dysfunction by investigating the function of the retina, thalamus, and cortex at the level of cell types and circuits, and using the acquired knowledge to understand disease mechanisms and to develop treatments.
Our experimental approach is inter-disciplinary: We combine physiological, molecular, viral, and computational approaches to reveal the structure and function of visual circuits. We use molecular techniques to genetically identify cell types in the network and label them using transgenic or viral technologies. The connections between labeled cells are revealed using trans-synaptic viruses. We then study the function of a genetically isolated circuit with physiological and imaging tools. Finally, we use computational methods to predict the behavior of an isolated circuit under natural conditions.
We combine the insights from our basic circuit investigations with human genetics to understand disease mechanisms and we use viral vectors to develop cell-type-targeted gene therapy to treat visual dysfunction. Currently we are focusing on cell-type-targeted optogenetic therapy.