Merry Christmas From Peter Westenskow And The Friedlander Laboratory

Happy Holidays

Peter Westenskow from the Friedlander Laboratory at Scripps sends this rather excellent neovascular Santa tuft for everyone to enjoy for Christmas and the New Year.  Thanks Peter!

Peter was a star graduate student here at the Moran Eye Center in Sabine Fuhrmann’s laboratory and has done amazing science in his post-doc at Scripps.  He’s decided to start looking for his first faculty position, so if you have any spots, give him a shout.


Happy Holidays 2012 And A Happy New Year In 2013

First Light Connectomics

We at Webvision would like to wish you all a very happy holiday season and a happy New Year in 2013.  Continuing on the theme from last years holiday season wishes, we have for you a colorful holiday image titled “Connectomics, First Light” from Robert E. Marc utilizing data generated by Scott Lauritzen, Crystal Sigulinsky and John Vo Hoang.

What we are seeing is a necklace of coupled retinal bipolar cells linked by sparse suboptical gap junctions, fundamentally new circuitry for retinal processing.  There is much more to this story, but we’ll wait until the publication.  For now, consider these data generated from the Connectomics project in the Marclab at the Moran Eye Center to be a colorful holiday image that represents our best wishes to you.

Portrait Of Vision Scientist: Michael Redmond, Ph.D.

We have a category here on Webvision for historical images of scientists called Who’s That? designed to show portraits of vision scientists in historical context.  Where they came from, etc…  After discussing some, we thought it would be nice to have some more contemporary imagery as well.  Of course if Webvision sticks around for years to come, then the contemporary portraits will tend to conflate with the historical portraits some, but the distinction is worth mentioning from a provenance perspective.  And while there is a reasonable expectation of that happening given the Webvision is now over 17 years old and going strong, we’ll deal with that issue when the time comes…

By the way, submission of images of vision scientists are welcome for both categories, Who’s That? and Portraits of Scientists from Webvisions readership.  We’d love to see what you send in.

So, onto the first contemporary portrait:  This shot of Michael Redmond was made in Berlin, Germany at the 2012 ISER meeting.  Michael is the chief of the Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology at the National Eye Institute.  His research has historically focused on RPE65, a protein involved in the retinal cycle of Vitamin A.  Michael’s lab works with normal retina  as well as retinal degenerative diseases in an effort to understand how RPE65 works in mouse models of RPE65 defects.  The really interesting aspect of his work with RPE65 has not been the knockout mouse models, but the efforts to modify RPE65 and investigate its role in the visual process with all of the attendant insights into disease that those efforts bring.


Image Credit: Bryan William Jones, Ph.D.

Amazing Anamorphic Illusions

This illusion has been making the rounds on the Internet lately and we here at Webvision thought we’d share it with this crowd.  These anamorphic illusions are reminiscent of some of the sidewalk chalk paintings that have become popular recently that rely on highly distorted or skewed representations (Ponzo Illusion) of objects or situations that rely on interpretation of perspective to create the illusion.

The Brusspup Youtube Channel has recently posted a number of actually really wonderful illusions, large and small and is worth a few minutes of your time.

Interesting Article: On the Perception, Production And Function Of Blue Colouration In Animals

Kate D. L. Umbers has published an interesting manuscript, titled “On the perception, production and function of blue colouration in animals”.  Its available for free at the Journal of Zoology here and covers those studies that have proposed a function for blue coloration in the animal kingdom, taking a multi-disciplinary approach before taking you on a discussion of “blue”.  What initially grabbed my attention was Table 1. A non-exhaustive list of visual pigments of various taxa showing the wavelengths at which their opsins are maximally sensitive.  After that, it was easy to get sucked into the discussion of production of blue, pigmentary and structural blues as well as the crux of the paper which is the functions of blue.

As an aside, if you ever get a chance to see Robert Marc’s lecture on color, do it.  Its magnificent.  His discussion of the color blue from the physics to the neurobiology is truly wonderful.


Describing Colors To Blind People

Tommy Edison, The Blind Film Critic has been blind since birth.  In this sort video from his Youtube Film Channel, he discusses the concept of color to a person who has never before seen.  Tommy also has lots of additional videos that give some insight into how the blind navigate through life.  For those of us who study vision or are interested in vision, Tommy’s channel is well worth dropping by.

Hat Tip to Laughing Squid.

Seminar: Genetics of Inherited Retinal Degenerations: Genetic Diagnostic Testing and Novel Disease Gene Discovery


Eric Pierce from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology will be delivering a talk on Genetics of Inherited Retinal Degenerations: Genetic Diagnostic Testing and Novel Disease Gene Discovery Monday, December 10th at 12:00pm in the John A. Moran Eye Center Auditorium.


Inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs) are important causes of vision loss. Over 200 different genetics types of IRDs have been identified to date. Despite the notable progress made in identifying the genetic causes for IRDs, the specific genetic cause remains elusive in half of IRD patients. Identifying the genetic cause of patients’ IRD has become especially important with the recent success of clinical trials of gene therapy for RPE65 Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA). We are using a two-tiered next- generation sequencing (NGS) approach for disease gene identification. In the first tier, we use selective exon capture and NGS for all known IRD disease genes perform diagnostic genetic testing. Using this approach, we identified disease-causing mutations in 54 of 117 (46%) families tested to date. In tier 2, we are using whole exome sequencing to search for new IRD disease genes in patients and families who do not have mutations in known IRD disease genes. This approach has already been fruitful, and lead to the identification of NMNAT1 as a novel LCA disease gene. Our exome sequencing studies have also shown that sequencing does not provide a genetic solution for many of families that we have analyzed to date, indicating that improved approaches are needed to identify novel disease genes in patients with IRDs.