Graduate Studies Faculty

« Back to Search List

David W. Robinson, Ph.D.

Interim Provost
Associate Professor
Admin Unit: Provost's Office
Mail Code: L101
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Research Interests:
Light Entrainment, Circadian Biology, Retina, Electrophysiology, Development, Ion Channels, Spiking Properties, Patch-clamping, retinal ganglion cells, melanopsin, immunohistochemistry, visual system, amacrine cells, intracellular signaling pathways, molecular » Click here for more about Dr. Robinson's research » PubMed Listing
Preceptor Rotations
Dr. Robinson has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Robinson has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.

Summary of Current Research

Processing of Visual and Circadian Information in the Mammalian Retina

In mammals, light entrainment of the circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) requires input from the retina. However, traditional rod and cone photoreceptors are not required. Instead, the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that project to the SCN seem to function as autonomous circadian photoreceptors. In striking contrast to their counterparts projecting to the primary visual targets (the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus and the superior colliculus), SCN-projecting RGCs exhibit depolarizing light responses independent of rod- and cone-driven synaptic input. Furthermore, the majority of these neurons express the novel photopigment, melanopsin. As an obligate part of the neural pathway from the retina to the SCN, these RGCs play a critical role in generating and shaping retinal output to the circadian system. One focus of the Robinson Laboratory is to determine the identity of the light-activated ion channel and the intracellular signaling pathway that leads to its activation in SCN-projecting RGCs. In order to achieve its goal, the Robinson Laboratory uses a combination of single cell electrophysiology, intracellular labeling and immunohistochemistry. Another focus is to determine how the cells mediating visual processing interact with the development and function of those  responsible for  photoentraining the circadian system.

Recent Publications


Warren, E.J., Allen, C.N., Brown, R.L. and Robinson, D.W. (2003). Intrinsic Light Responses of Retinal Ganglion Cells Projecting to the Circadian System. Eur. J. Neuroscience, 17: 1727-1735

Jobst, E.E., Robinson, D.W. and Allen, C.N. (2004). Potential Pathways for Intracellular Communication within the Calbindin Subnucleus of the Hamster Suprachiasmatic Nucleus. Neuroscience, 123(1), 87-99

Aboelela, S.A. and Robinson, D.W. (2004). Physiological response properties of displaced amacrine cells of the adult ferret retina, Vis. Neuroscience, 21: 135-144

Warren, E.J., Allen, C.N., Brown, R.L. and Robinson, D.W. (2006). The Light-Activated Signaling Pathway in SCN-Projecting Retinal Ganglion Cells. European Journal of Neuroscience, 23:2477-87

Perez-Leon J.A., Warren, E.J., Allen, C.N., Robinson, D.W. and Brown, R.L. (2006). Synaptic Inputs to Retinal Ganglion Cells that Set the Circadian Clock. European Journal of Neuroscience, 24: 1117-23

Ruggiero, L., Allen, C.N., Brown, R.L. and Robinson, D.W. (2009). The development of melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells in mice with early retinal degeneration. European Journal of Neuroscience, 29:359-67.


  • B.Sc., 1985 - 1988, University College London
  • Ph.D., 1988 - 1992, Cambridge University


Previous Positions


Non-Academic Interests