Our group is interested in understanding the genetic networks that co-ordinate the generation of different types of neurons in the central nervous system of vertebrates. We use zebrafish as a model and focus on neural specification in the retina in the eye, which has a relatively simpler organisation compared to other CNS regions.

Zebrafish grow quickly and are optically transparent, allowing us to track individual cells in the forming embryo. By visualising gene expression with fluorescent reporter protein, we can study how timing and interactions of genes within developing progenitors influence what types of neurons they can generate. We can also assess the consequences of gene manipulations including those that mimic human disorders as well as study how and why the zebrafish are able to completely regenerate neurons and neural function after injury in adults.

We focus on the visual system and highlights in the lab include a new phenotypic pipeline we established to rapidly screen through the hundreds of human gene candidates that are being identified for different neurological disorders. This includes subcellular, anatomical, physiological and psychophysics assessment of visual performance in hundreds of zebrafish larva.

Additionally, a new research program initiated by past postdoctoral fellow Dr. Caceres Velez, involves testing the potential of Australian plant derived antioxidants in promoting nerve cell survival in visual disorders including glaucoma as a new therapeutic strategy.

Check out our research page to find out more!