Associate Professor of Biology
Email:    ip7m@virginia.edu
Office:    (434) 924-4412
Lab:       (434) 924-4258
Office:    281 Gilmer Hall
B.A., Swarthmore College, 1987
Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1996
Postdoctoral Research, Uniformed Services University, 1996 -1999
Light is critical for many biological processes. While vision is the most obvious of these, much of our "non-visual" physiology is regulated by light. For example, the internal 24-hour (circadian) clock that controls

daily rhythms such as our sleep:wake cycle is reset by light. Responses that are controlled by the sympathetic system such constriction of the eye's pupil, the production of the hormone melatonin, or even heart rate are all regulated by light to some degree. Many of these non-visual responses to light are controlled, at least in part, by a recently discovered class of photoreceptor in the retina.

Melanopsin is the photopigment within these novel photoreceptors that renders them light-sensitive. Our lab is interested in understanding the role that these melanopsin-based photoreceptors play in various non-visual responses to light. In addition, we are trying to elucidate the biochemical details of the signaling cascade that is initiated by melanopsin activation. We hope that these studies will illuminate the broader impact of light on vertebrate physiology.


Anti-melanopsin immunoflourescent labeling of intrinsically photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells


Goz, D. et al. Targeted destruction of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells with a saporin conjugate alters the effects of light on mouse circadian rhythms. PLoS ONE 3, e3153 (2008).


Isoldi, M. C., Rollag, M. D., Castrucci, A. M. & Provencio, I. Rhabdomeric phototransduction initiated by the vertebrate photopigment melanopsin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102, 1217-21 (2005).


Qiu, X. et al. Induction of photosensitivity by heterologous expression of melanopsin. Nature 433, 745-9 (2005).


Roecklein, K. A. et al. A missense variant (P10L) of the melanopsin (OPN4) gene in seasonal affective disorder. J Affect Disord (2008) in press.



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