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Research to Prevent Blindness

Mapping the Circuits of the Retina

RPB Career Development Award recipient Gregory W. Schwartz, PhD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has published a finding that opens the door to improving retinal prosthetic devices, targeting treatments to restore damaged retinal circuits, and improving early detection of retinal diseases.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. "More generally, our work will provide a template for brain mapping efforts throughout the nervous system," says Schwartz.


Video, courtesy Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, produced by Sarah Plumridge.

By employing a combination of established and novel techniques to measure connectivity and function in retinal neural circuits, Dr. Schwartz has made detailed circuit models to predict the response of the target cell to various visual stimuli. As part of his team's work, they have discovered many new retinal ganglion cell (RGC) types, for which they are seeking to identify unique genetic markers.

"Dr. Schwartz is a uniquely talented computational neuroscientist who has very novel ideas concerning the circuitry of the retina," said Nicholas J. Volpe, MD, Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "I believe this work will set a new standard for our understanding of how information is processed in the retina. The retinal circuitry maps that Dr. Schwartz produces will greatly facilitate our national mandate for brain mapping efforts throughout the central nervous system."

"RPB is extremely pleased that our Career Development Award to Dr. Schwartz helped him lay the groundwork for his recent, prestigious, five-year, $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue this important work," adds RPB President Brian F. Hofland, PhD. "This is precisely the kind of outcome we envisioned in establishing this grant."

Visit the Schwartz lab.

Read the full story.

Read the study.

Read more about RPB Grants.

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