The Section of Retinal Ganglion Cell Biology at the National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health is seeking a candidate for a postdoctoral fellow position. We strive to understand the molecular processes taking place in the eye in the course of glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Our interests are concentrated on early changes in the retina and optic nerve during the course of glaucoma. Other main area of our research is regeneration of the optic nerve and the development of neuroprotective therapies for glaucoma. We use rodents and zebrafish as model organisms.
We are looking for a candidate with strong background in neurobiology, molecular biology, and cellular biology with less than 3 years of postdoctoral experience. Experience in electrophysiology is a plus. Good oral and written communication skills are required.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in developed countries. It is a group of optic neuropathies characterized by the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), leading to a specific deformation of the optic nerve head. Peripheral vision declines first in glaucoma, while central vision loss occurs much later. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is one of the main risk factors in glaucoma..., but it is not completely understood how elevated IOP kills RGCs. Several genes have been implicated in glaucoma pathogenesis but the search for other contributing genes continues. This section conducts basic research on glaucoma. We study genes, proteins and signaling pathways that might be essential for RGC and optic nerve development, function, survival, and regeneration.
Our interests are concentrated on early changes in the retina and the optic nerve during the course of glaucoma. Since it is hard to study such changes in the retina and optic nerve on human subjects, we use animal models of glaucoma for our investigations; subsequently we plan to confirm and apply our results to humans. Another main area of our research is the identification of new genes involved in glaucoma. This requires parallel studies on genes that are important for the function of the retina, the optic nerve and aqueous humor outflow system in the normal eye. We are particularly interested in genes encoding olfactomedin domain-containing proteins. To study function of these proteins we also use zebrafish as a model system.
Treatments currently available for glaucoma exert their effects by reducing IOP, the most important risk factor for the onset and progression of the disease, but have no direct effects on RGCs or the optic nerve and are not always optimally effective in slowing the progression of the disease. Thus, the development of novel, neuroprotective glaucoma therapies are of great importance. We are interested in investigating the potential neuroprotective benefits of stem cell transplantation, which has produced encouraging results in different models of CNS degeneration.
In addition to our own research, we collaborate extensively with other laboratories at the NEI, NIH, and the external community