Faculty & Staff
David W. Robinson, Ph.D.
- Interim Provost
- Associate Professor
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.
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
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