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Seminar: Of Mice and Men, Between Bedside & Bench

Seminar Flyer - Tsang

Stephen H. Tsang, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Columbia University will be delivering a seminar on “Of Mice and Men: Between Bedside & Bench” on Wednesday, March 16th at 11:30am in the Moran Eye Center auditorium.  Stephen will be discussing the application of genome engineering in stem cells to study “three blind mice”.

Categories: Seminar.


Seminar: Anterior and Posterior Segments of the eye: Hijacking Corneal Development and Novel Therapeutics for Retinal Regeneration

Seminar Flyer - Carroll

Lara Carroll, who works in the Bala Ambati laboratory will deliver a seminar on Anterior and Posterior Segments of the eye: Hijacking Corneal Development and Novel Therapeutics for Retinal Regeneration, on Wednesday, March 9th in the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Non-keratinized epithelium is essential for corneal transparency and vision. The molecular defects causing millions of patients worldwide to suffer from corneal surface disease are largely unknown. During my post-doc in Mario Capecchi’s lab, I found that conditional misexpression of HoxC8 in surface ectoderm caused differentiation of embryonic mouse corneal and conjunctival epithelium into keratinized skin-like epithelium. Expression of the corneal genes Pax6 and K12 was lost, whereas basal epithelial cells upregulated P63, a keratinocyte stem cell marker. My work is consistent with recent data demonstrating a Wnt signaling/Pax6/P63 corneal requirement for maintenance of adult corneal epithelium, and reveals additional molecular events that are likely essential for proper epithelial differentiation of the ocular surface during corneal development.

In the Ambati laboratory, we test methods for preserving and regenerating the inner retina following a variety of retinal assaults. We found that preventative therapy involving COMP-Ang1/Tie2 signaling stabilizes vascular beds and reduces ischemic damage in mice with retinal stroke and diabetic retinopathy. I am now focused on developing complementary strategies to improve preservation of the inner retina and reverse damage after it occurs.

Categories: Seminar.

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Why Do Goat Eyes Look The Way They Do?

There is a new Explorer special based on an article in the latest issue of National Geographic with Michael Stevens (@tweetsauce), Unlocking The Eyes that is well worth checking out. In the video above, Michael interviews Marty Banks and William Sprague about why many prey animals like goats have the eye anatomy they do. i.e., why are their eyes have horizontal pupils and why their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads?


Categories: Evolution of Vision, Interesting, Interesting Links.

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Losing His Sight, This Photographer Chases the Light

This short video features the art of Steven Erra, a photographer who is losing his vision due to a retinal degenerative disease, yet is generating beautiful work by light painting.  Steven is a member of The Seeing With Photography Collective, a group of sight impaired artists who are making waves in the art world through their imagery and inspiring the work of both sighted and non-sighted photographers alike.

Categories: Art of Vision, Interesting.

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How Animals And Humans See The World Differently

There is a short video from National Geographic that is a companion to an article by Ed Yong (@edyong209) in National Geographic here.  The photography is wonderful as is typical of National Geographic and is well worth your time.

For a more detailed read on the evolution of vision, be sure to check out this Webvision chapter by Trevor Lamb, Evolution of Phototransduction, Vertebrate Photoreceptors and Retina.

Categories: Evolution of Vision, Interesting.

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Amazing .gifs By Blind Artist, George RedHawk


George RedHawk is a legally blind artist who’s medium is animated gifs and his work is truly stunning. There is a really interesting portfolio of his work on Graphic Art News as well as some background on how he manages to create these amazing works here.  In short, he uses photo morphing software to morph one image into another, then he makes animated gifs.  Check out his website for more work from his portfolio of on-going works titled “The World Through My Eyes” here.

Categories: Interesting.

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Seminar: Molecular Organization of the First Visual Synapse

Seminar Flyer-Martemyanov

Kirill Martemyanov, Associate Professor at the Scripps Institute will be delivering a seminar on Molecular Organization of the First Visual Synapse, on Wednesday, February 10th at 12pm in the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Signaling in the retina plays an essential role in our vision. Light is detected by rod and cone photoreceptors that convert it to the electrical response further propagated through the retina circuitry by means of synaptic communication between neurons. To be able to see at low light levels, highly sensitive rods must faithfully transmit the signal that they generate to downstream bipolar neurons. The efforts in my laboratory are focused on studying molecular players and signaling events at the first visual synapse between formed by rod photoreceptors. I will describe how multiple elements of the synaptic signaling machinery are organized and scaffolded together to ensure proper transmission of signal generated by rods enabling vision at low light.

Categories: Seminar.

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The Mystery of Neanderthal Large Eyes

Neanderthal skull

The extinct Neanderthals had orbital eye sockets that are much larger than ours.  Recently, there has been an discussion covered in a fascinating article linked the other day on the BBC discussing the large orbital eye sockets of the Neanderthals and whether these eye represented a reason for the Neanderthals’ demise or not.

Helga Kolb noticed an interesting discussion about this from two other pioneers of vision research, Bill Stell and Clyde Oyster his resulted in some interesting commentary between them on their Facebook accounts. Continued…

Categories: Evolution of Vision, Interesting.

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Seminar: Cholesterol and the Retina: Twists and Turns of Biology and Pathobiology

Fliesler Seminar Flyer

Steven J. Fliesler, UB Distinguished Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at University of Buffalo/State University of New York (SUNY) will be delivering a seminar on Cholesterol and the Retina: Twists and Turns of Biology and Pathobiology on Thursday, October 8th at 11:30am  in the the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Cholesterol is a ubiquitous component of almost all cellular membranes in higher eukaryotes, and is, by far, the dominant sterol in all mammalian cells and tissues. Excessive levels of blood-borne cholesterol and deposition in extracellular matrices has long been causally associated with cardiovascular disease and age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and age-related macular degeneration. However, a paucity of cholesterol also can be deleterious, even lethal. Hence, defective cholesterol biosynthesis can lead to disruption of cellular and systemic physiology, resulting in profound pathologies. Merely providing exogenous cholesterol does not effectively ameliorate these pathologies. The Fliesler lab has shown that inhibiting the last step in cholesterol synthesis in an animal model, mimicking a human recessive disease known as the Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome (SLOS), causes a progressive and irreversible retinal degeneration. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this degeneration is complex, involving marked lipidomic, proteomic, and genomic changes. Lipid and protein oxidation, as well as oxysterol formation, have been implicated in this retinal degeneration. These findings suggest that blocking such oxidation (with antioxidants) may provide a useful adjunct to cholesterol supplementation (the current standard of care) as a therapeutic intervention for human patients afflicted with diseases involving defective cholesterol biosynthesis, such as SLOS. Preliminary clinical study results support this prediction.

Categories: Seminar.

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EMT And Myofibroblast Generation In An Injured Lens

Seminar Flyer - Saika

Shizuya Saika, Professor and Chairman of Wakayama Medical University will be delivering a seminar on EMT and myofibroblast generation in an injured lens: modulation of TGFb/Smad signal by extracellular matrix on Tuesday, October 6th at Noon  in the the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: EMT and myofibroblast appears in the fibrotic tissues that are undergoing wound healing process. In the eye it is observed in the crystalline lens or other ocular tissues. Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ)/Smad signal plays a central role in the process of EMT and myofibroblast generation in an injured mouse lens. However, EMT is further modulated by signals derived from binding of extracellular matrix (ECM) to cell surface receptors. In the current talk the mechanisms of modulation of EMT by matricellular proteins, i. e., osteopontin, tenscin-C and lumican through modulation of TGFβ signal. Lacking one of these component suppressed activation of TGFβ signal as revealed by mutant mouse lines. Although overall signals derived from these ECM components support Smad signal and positively modulate EMT, the detailed mechanisms of actions seem differ among each other.

Categories: Seminar.

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Missense variant in CST3 Exerts Recessive Effect On Susceptibility to AMD


There is an interesting paper out demonstrating that CST3 exerts a recessive effect on susceptibility to AMD.  Cystatin C is a potent inhibitor of cysteine proteinases expressed by many tissues and in the eye, it is highly expressed by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The team led by Luminita Paraoan recently reported data identifying a polymorphism in the cystatin C gene (CST3) that increases the risk of two major degenerative diseases, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer’s disease.  Both these multifactorial diseases involve the age-related accumulation of extracellular deposits, linked to dysregulation of protein homeostasis. Since the advent of the genome-wide association study (GWAS) many SNPs have been found to be associated with these two diseases. However the SNP in CST3, which translates into an amino acid change in the leader sequence of the precursor protein, is the first identified to increase the risk of developing both diseases. Moreover the authors demonstrate that the risk associated with the mutant allele follows the same recessive model for both diseases. Thus only those individuals with two copies of the mutant cystatin allele are at elevated risk of developing both diseases.

Categories: Notable papers.

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Bruch’s Membrane

Bruchs Membrane

Bruch’s membrane is a highly specialized and multi-laminar structure in our retinas that forms the basis for mediating interactions between the retinal pigment epithelium and blood flow from the choroid.  I’ve not seen many good images online, so figured this image from mouse would be a good addition showing the relationship of the basal surface of the RPE with Bruch’s membrane.


Categories: Ultrastructure.

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How To Make A Prosthetic Eye

One of my favorite movie lines is in Blade Runner when Hannibal Chew tells Roy Batty that he designed his eyes. Until reality catches up with science fiction, eye design is still in the hands of designing prosthetic and attractive, but non-functional eyes.

This intriguing video features David Carpenter of the Ocular prosthetics division of Moorfields Eye Hospital discussing how to make a prosthetic eye to replace one lost due to trauma or disease.  Every year, David and his team craft 1,400 customized prosthetic eyes for patients, filling a fundamental cosmetic need.

Categories: Interesting, Interesting Links.

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Seminar: Linking Metabolism, Vascular Maintenance, and Photoreceptor Homeostasis in the Retina

Peter W

Peter Westenskow, Research Associate, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute Staff Scientist, Lowy Medical Research Institute will be delivering a seminar on Linking Metabolism, Vascular Maintenance, and Photoreceptor Homeostasis in the Retina on Wednesday, July 2nd 15th at Noon  in the the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Functional interactions between neurons, vasculature, and glia within neurovascular units are critical for maintenance of the retina and other CNS tissues. The architecture of the neurosensory retina is a highly organized structure with alternating layers of neurons and blood vessels that match the metabolic demand of neuronal activity with an appropriate supply of oxygen within perfused blood. In my talk I will discuss the importance of retinal neurovascular units in the retina, focusing specifically on work demonstrating that photoreceptors can generate a bioreactive lipid that activates angiogenesis in the choriocapillaris. I hope to provide novel perspectives on the physiology of complex neurovascular units and discuss how these studies may inform future neurotrophic strategies for treating some of the most severe neurodegenerative diseases.

Categories: Moran Eye Center, Seminar.

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Seminar: Fat3 – An Unusual Cadherin Regulating Retinal Lamination and Stratification

Michael D Flyer

Michael Deans, Assistant Professor and Director of Research, Otolaryngology, University of Utah will be delivering a seminar on Fat3 – An Unusual Cadherin Regulating Retinal Lamination and Stratification on Thursday, July 2nd 24th at Noon  in the the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Neurons receive signals through dendrites that vary widely in number and organization, ranging from one primary dendrite to multiple complex dendritic trees. For example, retinal amacrine cells project primary dendrites into discrete strata of the inner plexiform layer and only rarely extend processes into other retinal layers. We have shown that the atypical cadherin Fat3 ensures that ACs develop this unipolar morphology. AC precursors are initially multipolar, but lose neurites as they migrate through the neuroblastic layer. In fat3 mutants, pruning is unreliable and ACs elaborate two dendritic trees: one within the IPL and a second projecting away from the IPL that stratifies to form an additional synaptic layer. More recently we have found that Fat3 is regulated by RNA processing and that one alternatively spliced isoform binds to the Kinesin subunit Kif5b. One exciting hypothesis that we are currently testing is that Kinesin trafficking regulates Fat3 subcellular distribution, thereby mediating Fat3-dependent dendrite formation.

Categories: Moran Eye Center, Retinal Development, Seminar.

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