Monica Vetter, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah will be delivering a seminar, Neurogenesis And Neurodegeneration In The Retina on April 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 Noon in the John A. Moran Eye Center Auditorium.
A continuum of events throughout life are essential to acquire and maintain normal vision. This includes generating the normal complement of neurons in the retina during development, and maintaining these neurons in the adult. Disorders of eye development can lead to congenital blindness, while degeneration of retinal neurons can cause progressive blindness at later ages.
In the developing retina our goal is to define the sequence of gene expression that governs neural differentiation, and understand how signaling pathways and epigenetic regulation modulates gene expression or function. Complex signaling events coordinate progenitor proliferation and differentiation, and can govern the expression of histone modifiers that are required for differentiation.
To investigate the process of neurodegeneration, we are probing the mechanisms underlying glaucoma, a neurodegenerative disease of the retina. We find that microglia, which are resident cells of the innate immune system, serve as early harbingers of neuronal decline. We are defining the signals leading to their recruitment and activation with disease progression, with the goal of targeting these and slowing degeneration.