NEWS IN SPRING 2017:
My lab at UW Oshkosh joins vision scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of California San Francisco, the University of California Berkeley, the University of California Los Angeles, and the Oregon Health & Science University in a collaborative research effort that has just been funded by The Foundation Fighting Blindness. The pediatric disorder under study for the next 5 years is Usher Syndrome, which first deafens and then blinds those who inherit it. This project will employ induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients, alongside a zebrafish model of Usher Syndrome. This project also aims to develop a ground squirrel model of Usher Syndrome, based on the squirrel's commonality with the human visual system.
My lab conducts studies of the ground squirrel retina, a rodent model of cone-dominant vision. Cones are crucial to human vision because they compose the fovea, a tiny portion of each retina that is responsible for a person's highest-acuity vision. Whenever you "look at something", such as the words on this screen, you are focusing its image on your two foveas. Loss of foveal function makes one legally blind.
To supply research projects (carried out in collaboration with investigators at Research I institutions), I have created a captive breeding colony of 13-lined ground squirrels, which was most recently described in a publication in the November 2012 issue of Lab Animal. The colony's expansion was made possible by a 2008 award from the NIH-NCRR Animal Facility Improvement Program, followed by AAALAC accreditation.
The colony has empowered research programs in the United States, Europe, and Asia, in turn broadening my exposure to various fields of inquiry (see Recent Publications). My lab regularly hosts visiting scientists needing immediate access to biological specimens or wishing to learn first-hand about our husbandry methods.
While we continue to collaborate with vision scientists, we are also working to characterize the 13-liner's reproductive biology in captivity.