Vision research at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri is a significant, multidisciplinary enterprise, in which researchers located in laboratories across the campus investigate many aspects of the biology and pathology of the visual system. Support for our endeavors comes primarily from the National Institutes of Health (in particular, the National Eye Institute) with important additional contributions from internal grants, private foundations and charities. Vision Research at Washington University is supported by two major interdepartmental grants, a P30 vision core grant (which provides access to shared resources and instrumentation) and a T32 vision training grant (which provides stipend support for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows engaged in Vision Research).

Vision Core Investigators

Andley Lab

Usha Andley, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Protein aggregate formation in eye lens cataract initiation and growth

Apte Lab

Rajendra Apte, MD, PhD, Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Innate immunity and immune effector mechanisms in the retina; oxidative stress and cell death; models of developmental angiogenesis and neovascularization; inflammation and photoreceptor survival; macular degeneration

Bassnett Lab

Steven Bassnett, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Cell Biology & Physiology

Understanding the cellular basis of transparency and accommodation in the lens of the eye

Blumer Lab

Ken Blumer, PhD, Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology

Currently our goals are to elucidate the mechanistic and physiological functions of RGS proteins in the cardiovascular, nervous and visual systems through biochemical, cell biological, genetic and physiologic studies of knockout and transgenic mice. 

Burkhalter Lab

Andreas Burkhalter, PhD, Professor, Neuroscience

Our studies of the visual system in mice are aimed at understanding how the visual cortex is subdivided into different areas, how the network of connections between areas develops, how it is organized in the adult and how it is altered by visual experience. Interareal networks are important for visual perception and visually guided actions. 

Chen Lab

Shiming Chen, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Professor, Developmental Biology

The major goal of our laboratory research is to identify the molecular mechanism(s) regulating photoreceptor gene expression in the mammalian retina and the implications of these mechanisms for understanding photoreceptor degenerative diseases and developing therapeutic treatments for these diseases. 

Corbo Lab

Joseph Corbo, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Pathology & Immunology

We are interested in the transcriptional regulatory networks that underlie the development, evolution, and diseases of photoreceptors in the retina. We are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of how a network of transcription factors orchestrates the expression of distinct cohorts of downstream genes to build this complex micromachine, the photoreceptor cell.

Culican Lab

Susan Culican, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Director of Residency Education

Cellular mechanisms of inter-ocular competition in visual development

Ferguson Lab

Thomas Ferguson, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

The laboratory studies the role of autophagy in the pathogenesis of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal degenerative diseases. 

Gao Lab

Feng Gao, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biostatisitcs

Research interest focuses on survival and longitudinal data, including the assessment of clinical prediction rules, the prediction of survival outcome with time-dependent covariates, growth mixture modeling of longitudinal data, and joint modeling of longitudinal and survival data.

Gordon Lab

Mae Gordon, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Professor, Division of Biostatistics

Dr. Gordon works closely with the Vision Research Coordinating Center. The mission of the Vision Research Coordinating Center (VRCC) is to conduct pilot studies to provide a sound scientific foundation for more definitive larger studies to develop new outcome measures, to design and implement observational studies and clinical trials. The VRCC also serves as the coordinating center for two multi-center clinical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Hodzic Lab

Didier Hodzic, PhD,

Retina, Retinal Degenerations & Neovascularization (Cell Biology)

Huang Lab

Andrew Huang, MD, MPH, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

  • Corneal epithelial wound healing
  • Corneal neovascularization
  • Corneal stromal dystrophies
  • Corneal Stem cells and Dry eye

Kass Lab

Michael Kass, MD, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Diagnosis, treatment and epidemiology of glaucoma

Kefalov Lab

Vladimir Kefalov, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

We are a sensory neurobiology lab interested in the function of mammalian rod and cone photoreceptors. These sensory neurons use a prototypical G-protein signaling cascade to convert light into electric signal as the first step in visual perception. Our studies involve the use a battery of state-of-the-art tools, from single-cell and isolated retina electrophysiological recordings, to in vivo electroretinogram and behavior experiments with wild type and genetically modified mice. While the emphasis of our studies is on our daytime photoreceptors, the cones, we are also investigating some aspects of rod phototransduction. In addition, we are interested in the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in the retina and are working on developing pharmacological and gene-therapy tools for preventing photoreceptor cell death.

Kerschensteiner Lab

Daniel Kerschensteiner, MD, Associate Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Associate Professor, Neuroscience Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

We would like to understand the principles that guide the assembly of neural circuits and to decipher the way they process information. Our efforts concentrate on the mammalian retina.

Lukasiewicz Lab

Peter Lukasiewicz, PhD, Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

We are interested in understanding the synaptic interactions underlying visual information processing. The vertebrate retina is ideally suited for studying synaptic interactions.

Margolis Lab

Todd P. Margolis, MD, PhD, Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor and Chairman, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

The primary focus of the Margolis laboratory is research on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the establishment and maintenance of latent neuronal infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV). Ongoing research is aimed at documenting the role of both neuronal and viral gene expression in the establishment and maintenance of HSV latency.

Morgan Lab

Josh Morgan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

The goal of our lab is to identify the structural and developmental principles that turn agglomerations of cells into image processing circuitry.

Pruett Lab

John Pruett, MD, PhD, Assiociate Professor of Psychiatry (Child)

  • The neuroscience of autism and related disorders
  • Attention to social and non-social stimuli in autism
  • Social cognition / Theory of Mind
  • Comparative cognition of autism

Rajagopal Lab

Rithwick Rajagopal, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

  • Pathogenic mechanisms in diabetic retinopathy
  • neuronal damage in diabetes mellitus

Ravi Lab

Nathan Ravi, MS, PhD, MD, FAAO, Professor Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Research in Dr. Ravi’s laboratory is directed toward understanding the pathophysiology of presbyopia and developing medical or surgical treatments for this condition. Presbyobia, which means “aging eye,” results in an inability to see clearly at near distances. Although this condition is not vision threatening, it affects all of us.

Shiels Lab

Alan Shiels PhD, Associate Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Department of Genetics

Our research focuses on the molecular genetic basis of eye diseases including; cataracts, glaucoma and eye movement disorders.

Siegfried Lab

Carla Siegfried, MD, Jacquelyn E. and Allan E. Kolker, MD, Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Glaucoma: The diagnostic and therapeutic assessment of glaucoma, including pharmacological, surgical, and laser treatment, patient support and decision making models in glaucoma.

Snyder Lab

Lawrence Snyder, MD, PhD, Professor, Neuroscience

My laboratory studes how the brain, and especially the cerebral cortex, combines sensory information with higher order cognition (rules, memory, etc.) in order to drive motor commands. Much of our work is focused on spatial processing for guiding eye and arm movements.

Soto Lab

Florentina Soto, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Studies in my laboratory aim to determine the role of ATP-mediated (purinergic) neurotransmission in the mammalian retina. 

Tychsen Lab

Lawrence Tychsen, MD, John F. Hardesty, MD, Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Professor, Neurobiology; Professor, Ophthalmology in Pediatrics, Dept of Pediatrics

Dr. Tychsen’s laboratory work is focused broadly on development of binocular vision in infant humans and monkeys, and specifically on neural mechanisms in strabismus (the clinical disorder of crossed-eyes)

Van Stavern Lab

Gregory Van Stavern Associate Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • neuroimmunology
  • idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Wessel Lab

Ralf Wessel, PhD, Professor, Physics