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Home » Research at NEI » Neurobiology-Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory

Neurobiology Neurodegeneration & Repair Laboratory (N-NRL)

Anand Swaroop, Ph.D.
Anand Swaroop, Ph.D.

Lab Chief: Anand Swaroop, Ph.D.

Building 6, Room 338
6 Center Drive
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0610
Phone: (301) 435-5754
Phone: (301) 435-6149
Fax: (301) 480-9917

Mission Statement

Neurobiology Neurodegeneration & Repair Laboratory (N-NRL) was established recently with a goal to develop novel treatment modalities for blinding retinal diseases based on fundamental understanding of genetic defects and/or biological pathways underlying differentiation, homeostasis, aging and disease pathogenesis.

Research Overview

The process of vision begins in the retina. In humans, retina supplies almost 30% of the sensory input to the brain. Any damage to retinal neurons can lead to devastating consequences, including the loss of vision. Retinal and macular diseases are a major cause of visual impairment and affect the quality of life for millions worldwide. The basic premise guiding the research of this laboratory is that clinical manifestations of disease result from perturbations in normal cellular behavior and adaptive changes to genetic variants/mutations interacting with environmental factors. With a focus on the retina, this laboratory wishes to significantly advance our understanding of several fundamentally important and interrelated biological processes and help pursue clinical interventions that utilize these advances. In particular, we seek to understand: (1) how neurons differentiate from neuroepithelial progenitors (or stem cells); (2) how these neurons form functional synaptic circuits; (3) how neuronal function is accomplished in the normal retina and how it is compromised during aging and in disease conditions; and (4) how can we repair the damage or treat the degenerative disease.

We have specifically identified the following focus areas of research:

The basic and clinical research environment at NIH provides unique opportunities to carry out innovative multi-disciplinary research that is critical for solving complex problems in biology and medicine. Our approach will be to build on strong and creative individual-specific projects yet tackle complex questions in retinal neurobiology and degeneration, which should lead to new cell, gene or small molecule based therapeutic paradigms. As retina is a relatively less complex and perhaps the most approachable part of the central nervous system, our research will complement the existing neuroscience programs at NIH.

Staff photo
Neurobiology Neurodegeneration & Repair Laboratory (N-NRL), Staff
[Enlarge Photo]

Open Positions

Tenure-track positions: A round of recruitments was recently completed. No more applications are currently being considered.

Post-docs: Current openings for junior Post-docs are in all research areas of interest to N-NRL. Outstanding candidates with published experience and solid training are encouraged to apply.

Internships: In general, we are ONLY considering IRTA fellows with long-term commitments (at least 1-2 years). The section on Retinal Development and Genetics (Dr. Swaroop) is NOT accepting summer interns for 2014, except in the area of computational biology. All inquiries should be addressed to Dr. Tiziana Cogliati at cogliatitp@nei.nih.gov. If you are interested in other potential internships within NEI, please contact Cesar Perez-Gonzalez, Ph.D., at cesarp@nei.nih.gov.

Organization

Office of the Chief

Name Title E-mail
Anand Swaroop, Ph.D.
PubMed Author Search
Chief, Senior Investigator swaroopa@nei.nih.gov
Lucia Lawrence Administrative Lab Manager lawrencel@nei.nih.gov
Jacob Nellissery, Ph.D. Technical Lab Manager nellisseryj@nei.nih.gov
Sharyn Ferrara Administrative Lab Manager at UM (Contractor) ferraras@nei.nih.gov
Lisa Andersen Purchasing andersenla@mail.nih.gov
Matthew Brooks Biologist – Genomic technologies brooksma@nei.nih.gov
Linn Gieser Biologist – Molecular biology gieserl@nei.nih.gov
Arturo Rivera Lab Technician arturo.rivera@nih.gov
Jessica Gumerson Biologist – Histochemistry jessica.gumerson@nih.gov
Milton English Biologist – Zebra fish menglish@nei.nih.gov

N-NRL Structure

Title Name
Office of the Chief Anand Swaroop, Ph.D.
PubMed Author Search
Retinal Development and Genetics Section Anand Swaroop, Ph.D.
PubMed Author Search
Retinal Cell Biology and Degeneration Section Tiansen Li, Ph.D.
PubMed Author Search
Gene Therapy Unit Zhijian Wu, Ph.D.
PubMed Author Search
Retinal Circuit Development & Genetics Unit Tudor Badea, M.D, Ph.D.
PubMed Author Search


Journal Covers


Retinal Development and Genetics Section

Current Research

The eye is our window to the world and to the brain. The process of vision begins in the retina and in humans, the retina supplies almost 30% of the sensory input to the brain. Any damage to retinal neurons can lead to devastating consequences, including loss of vision. Retinal and macular diseases are a major cause of visual impairment and affect the quality of life of millions worldwide. The basic premise guiding research of the Retinal Development, Genetics & Therapy Section is that clinical manifestations of disease result from perturbations in normal cellular behavior and adaptive changes to genetic variants/mutations interacting with environmental factors. With a focus on the retina, our laboratory wishes to advance our understanding of several fundamentally important and interrelated biological processes and help pursue clinical interventions that exploit these advances. In particular, we seek to understand: (1) how neurons differentiate from neuroepithelial progenitors (or stem cells); (2) how these neurons form functional synaptic circuits; (3) how neuronal function is accomplished in the normal retina and how it is compromised during aging and in disease conditions; and (4) how we can repair the damage or treat the degenerative disease.

The following four "themes" encompass the many projects that we are developing in our lab:

Regulatory networks guiding retinal development, homeostasis and aging - One of our major efforts is to elucidate gene regulatory networks that guide differentiation of photoreceptor subtypes from retinal progenitor cells in vivo in the mouse retina and in vitro using human and mouse-derived embryonic (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We are also focusing on the identification of molecules that control the specificity of photoreceptor synapse formation. Our work extends to the study of gene networks underlying photoreceptor homeostasis and aging. We apply cutting-edge genomic technologies (e.g., Next Generation Sequencing) to perform whole genome expression profiles, transcription factor binding and epigenetic studies.

Synaptic circuit formation in the retina -

Genetic basis of human retinal disease - The genetic component of our laboratory is dedicated to the identification of genetic defects in inherited retinal degenerative diseases and genetic susceptibility variants associated with common multifactorial diseases (age-related macular degeneration, AMD, and diabetic retinopathy). We combine whole exome sequencing, targeted chip genotyping and well-established computational workflows for new disease gene discovery. We pursue the study of candidate genes to delineate molecular pathways leading to retinal pathology, focusing on retinal/macular degenerative diseases and on AMD. We take advantage of an extended colony of mouse models of retinal disease, zebrafish mutants, and we develop in vitro disease models using patient-derived iPSCs.

Treatment paradigms for retinal diseases - The ultimate goal of our laboratory is to develop treatment paradigms for retinal and macular degenerative diseases (specifically those caused by mutations in CEP290, RPGR and RP2), using a comprehensive set of approaches including pluripotent stem cells (ESCs and iPSCs), small molecules against specific gene or pathway-based targets, and gene replacement using viral vectors.

Selected Publications


2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

Last Updated: May 2014



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