We are currently recruiting highly motivated candidates for MSc and PhD studies, and talented Medical School and undergraduate students for part time paid positions.
The laboratory of Dr. Shai Sabbah is interested in how organisms perceive the visual world and use this perceptual information to guide their behavior. Thus, by studying the structure and function of genetically distinct retinal and brain circuits, we seek to link the processing of brightness, contrast, color, and motion information to the behavior of animals.
Our current focus is a newly discovered family of retinal output neurons and their role in retinal light adaptation and the pathophysiology of mood disorders.
The ability of the retina and brain to report the absolute light intensity (irradiance) in the environment was first observed half a century ago. However, its physiological basis is still poorly understood. The only retinal output neurons that are capable of transmitting intensity-encoding signals are called ipRGCs - intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. These intensity signals have a remarkably diverse array of functional effects at many levels of the central nervous system, from modulation of sleep, activity and hormonal rhythms, through regulation of pupil size, to light avoidance and retinal development. New evidence suggests that they affect both the retina itself (a possible substrate for light adaptation) and the limbic thalamus and cortex (through which they appear to mediate effects of light on mood). Our current research is devoted to better understanding both of these novel output modalities of the ipRGC network.
We use mouse genetic models and combine:
- Reconstruction of neural circuits using light and electron microscopy
- in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology and functional imaging
- Optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulations of neural activity
- Behavioral analysis
These powerful and complementary approaches allow us to reveal the operation of specific neural circuits and their role in shaping the behavior of animals in unprecedented detail.
Sabbah S, Papendorp C, Koplas E, Beltoja M, Etebari C, Gunesch AN, Carrete L, Kim MT, Manoff G, Bhatia-Lin A, Zhao T, Schreck D, Dowling H, Briggman K, Berson DM. (In preparation). Synaptic circuits for irradiance coding by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells.
Stabio ME, Sabbah S
, Quattrochi L, Ilardi MC, Fogerson M, Leyrer M, Renna JM, Kim MT, Kim I, Schiel M, Briggman KL, Berson DM. (2018). The M5 cell: A color-opponent intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell
Featured on journal cover and in:
Fine M, Sabbah S
, Shashar N. and Hoegh-Guldberg O. (2013). Light from Down Under
. Journal of Experimental Biology
Chapters in Books