Name: Dr. Christophe P Ribelayga
Educational Qualification: PhD
Designation: Associate Professor and Bernice Weingarten Chair
Department: Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Science
University: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
Research Interests: Retinal physiology, Circadian biology
Biography: The goals of my laboratory are to elucidate how the brain processes information and adapts to an environment constantly changing over the course of the day/night cycle. We are particularly interested in understanding the role of gap junctions (or electrical synapses) and that of endogenous circadian (24-hour) clocks in the daily plasticity of neuronal network organization. We have focused our studies on the retina, a tractable model for the rest of the central nervous system and a great example of a self-optimizing network controlled, at least in part, by gap junctions and circadian clocks. I am confident that I have the expertise, leadership, and motivation necessary to successfully carry out the proposed research project. I have broad backgrounds in retinal physiology and in circadian biology, with specific training and expertise in key research areas for this research endeavor. As a graduate student at the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, I studied the circadian and seasonal (photoperiodic) regulation of melatonin synthesis in the rodent pineal gland, with a focus on the last enzymatic step of the melatonin synthetic pathway. As a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and later as a faculty member at The Ohio State University, I studied the control of the light responses of retinal cells, such as cones and horizontal cells, by circadian clocks in the retina. In 2009, I started my own laboratory at the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. As PI on an NIH-funded grant, my expertise in both retinal physiology and biological rhythms, as well as my skills that are of use to study almost any aspect of modern neuroscience, from molecular biology techniques to electrical recording techniques to biochemistry, represent valuable assets to investigate the circadian organization of retinal function. The current application builds logically on my prior work. In addition, I laid the groundwork for the proposed research by developing new electrophysiology and genetic tools to study the dynamic regulation of photoreceptor electrical coupling in mouse retina. To overcome any possible technical difficulties in my research, I have established active collaborations with several colleagues including Drs. Stephen C. Massey and John O’Brien, leading experts in electrical synapses and retinal circuits, and Dr. David W. Marshak, a leading researcher in retinal anatomy. My own research background together with strong collaborations will ensure the smooth completion of the proposed studies.