Russell Van Gelder
Dept.: Boyd C. Bucey Professor and Chair, Department of Ophthalmology
Neuroscience Focus Groups: Sensory Systems
Our laboratory has two major interests. On a basic research level, we study non-visual photoreception — how the eye can sense light without seeing. Non-visual pathways mediate the pupillary light response in mammals and birds, and mediate entrainment of circadian rhythms in animals as well. Our laboratory combines molecular genetics, physiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry to characterize these processes. We employ several model systems, including circadian rhythm entrainment and pupillary light responses of mice, the pupillary light response of the embryonic chicken iris, and cell culture based systems to study the function of non-visual photopigments including melanopsin and cryptochrome. We are also interested in conferring photosensitivity to non-photoreceptive cells in the retina as a means for restoring vision-like function to certain forms of blindness. On a translational research level, our laboratory is interested in pathogen detection and discovery in ocular inflammatory disease. We employ polymerase chain reaction-based detection, representational sequencing, and immuno-proteomic techniques to identify antigens and pathogens inducing inflammation in the eye.