Our research program focuses on ocular development, disease and regeneration, and we utilize the zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a model system for most of our studies. The zebrafish is an ideal model through which genes necessary for visual system development, function and regeneration can been identified. Zebrafish embryos are transparent during early development and their eyes are large and easily accessible.
Furthermore, eye development in zebrafish is analogous to that observed in other vertebrate embryos, and their eyes are structurally similar to the human eye, thereby providing an excellent model system in which one can address fundamental aspects of eye development. Indeed, many disrupted genes and pathways identified as integral to the formation of the zebrafish eye produce phenotypes that resemble disorders of the human visual system. Thus, characterization of the molecular mechanisms of eye development in zebrafish promises to facilitate a better understanding of these human pathologies. Moreover, the zebrafish regenerates its retina after injury making this an ideal system through which the molecular underpinnings of the regenerative process can be elucidated, and potential therapies developed and/or tested.
Our goal is to progress towards understanding the epigenetic regulation of retinal development from progenitor cell to differentiated neuron, and how these processes could operate during regeneration.