Dr. Xiangyun Wei
Dr. Xiangyun Wei

Dr. Xiangyun Wei is forging new research into how retinas are formed during our development. By learning how retinal cells are organized during the development of a fetus, Dr. Wei hopes to understand how certain blinding disease, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, affect the organization and survival of certain cells. Understanding this process can potentially lead to treatments for these diseases. Dr. Wei’s lab is home to more than 10,000 tanks of Zebrafish, one of the largest colonies in the world. Zebrafish are excellent animal models due to the similar structure and function of their retinas to human retinas. Although how the organization of the retinal cells is achieved during development is not yet known, Dr. Wei has developed strong leads and is beginning work to look into the function of a gene called Crumbs/Nok, which may help understand the causes of retinal diseases.

When our car does not work, we take it to the mechanic. The mechanic needs to know first how the car is built in order to be able to repair it. The human body is much more complex than a car but, in a similar fashion, we need to understand how it works in order to improve its health. Dr. Wei is working on unraveling scientific mysteries of how our eyes, specifically our retinas are formed during our development. He is currently analyzing the functions of several genes in retinal development. A healthy and functional retina is composed of several layers of cells. Cells are the building blocks of tissues. There are many types of cells in our body; each of them has distinct functions. For example, the photoreceptor cells in the retina regulate the release of their neurotransmitters in response to light signals. These neurotransmitters relay the signals to the next tier of nerve cells in the signal-transmitting chain. The various cells in the retina have to be organized in a specific manner to enable proper transmission of signals to our brains.

The Retinal Development Laboratory aims to unravel scientific mysteries of how our eyes, specifically our retinas are formed during our development. Understanding this process can potentially lead to treatments for blinding diseases.    Dr. Wei hopes to understand how certain blinding diseases, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, affect the organization and survival of retinal cells. Understanding this process can potentially lead to treatments for these diseases.

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