Pictured: Project Principal Investigator Tomomi Ichinose, M.D., Ph.D., center, and her lab staff, from left, doctoral student Chase Hellner, M.D./M.S. student Leo Hall and research assistant Christina Koehler.
The National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health has awarded the Wayne State University School of Medicine $1.8 million over four years to study a new visual motion detection model proposed by Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences Tomomi Ichinose, M.D., Ph.D.
"Our goal is to understand how retinal neurons conduct visual recognition. In the future, the results of our study may contribute to the fabrication of artificial retinal devices and early detection of retinal diseases," Dr. Ichinose said, the new project's principal investigator.
Dr. Ichinose established her WSU lab in 2012, then examining retinal neural responses to various kinds of light stimulation using the mouse retina.
The new grant, R01EY028915, is for the project "Mechanism of Motion Detection in Retinal Neural Network," and follows a previous discovery that more than 10 types of retinal bipolar cells exhibit functional, morphological and molecular differences.
"When we knocked out the acetylcholine receptors by gene manipulation technology, the mouse did not see moving objects any more. We used the data to propose the new model," she said.
The retina is made up of nerve cells called neurons. Retinal neurons make special connections and network to sense light, divide images into components such as color and motion, and send them to the brain in parallel.
Dr. Ichinose thanked her mentors, Vice Dean of Research Linda Hazlett, Ph.D., and Professor Zhuo-Hua Pan, Ph.D., for their support of her research.