Z. Jimmy Zhou PhD

Marvin L. Sears Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and of Neurobiology; Vice Chairman and Director of Research, Ophthalmology and Visual Science

Research Interests

physiology and development of the mammalian retina under normal and pathological conditions; organization and function of retinal synapses and circuits; mechanisms of retinal diseases


Research Summary

My laboratory is interested in understanding the physiology, functional circuitry, and development of the mammalian retina under normal and pathological conditions. Our current research focuses on (1) mechanisms of visual signal processing in the retina, with an emphasis on neuronal interactions and neural circuits underlying direction selectivity and other forms of visual computation, (2) mechanisms of synaptic transmission and dual neurotransmitter co-transmission between identified retinal neurons, (3) cellular and network mechanisms underlying spontaneous rhythmic activity in the developing retina (retinal waves) and activity-dependent visual system development, (4) mechanisms of retinal diseases and restoration of visual function in animal models. The experimental techniques used in our lab include single and dual patch-clamp recording together with optogenetics and laser spot photolysis in the wholemount mammalian retina, two-photon imaging of synaptic and dendritic activities using synthetic and genetically encoded calcium and neurotransmitter sensors, gene transfection (in vivo electroporation and viral transfection), multielectrode array recording, and computational modeling.


Selected Publications

  • Lee S*, Chen L*, Chen M*, Ye M, Seal RP, Zhou ZJ. An unconventional glutamatergic circuit in the retina formed by vGluT3 amacrine cells. Neuron, 84:708-715, 2014. *Co-first authors
  • Lee S, Kim K, Zhou ZJ. Role of ACh-GABA cotransmission in detecting image motion and motion direction. Neuron, 68:1159-1172, 2010.
  • Zheng J*, Lee S*, Zhou ZJ. A transient network of intrinsically bursting starburst cells underlies the generation of retinal waves. Nature Neurosci, 9(3):363-71, 2006. * Co-first authors
  • Lee S and Zhou ZJ. The synaptic mechanism of direction selectivity in distal processes of starburst amacrine cells. Neuron, 51:787-99, 2006.
  • Zheng JJ*, Lee S*, Zhou ZJ. A developmental switch in the excitability and function of the starburst network in the mammalian retina. Neuron, 44:851-64, 2004. *Co-first authors

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