Michael Do, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology
F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center
Center for Life Science, Room 12-061
3 Blackfan Circle
Boston, MA 02115
Visit my lab page here.
Broadly stated, our goal is to learn how external signals interact with internal states to generate appropriate action. We take a biophysical approach to neural circuits and conduct our investigations within a conceptual framework established by behavioral experiments. In this manner, we develop a precise understanding of the steps by which system function emerges from its components.
Our principal method is patch-clamp electrophysiology, applied to specific cell types in tissues isolated from model organisms. We also employ approaches from optics, molecular genetics, anatomy, and behavior.
We study two pathways in the mammalian visual system, from their origin in the retina to their influences downstream. One pathway regulates fundamental aspects of physiology such as the circadian clock, sleep, and hormone levels. It tends to sum photons over broad intervals of time and space for accurate measurement of the overall light level. By contrast, the second pathway initiates most of our conscious visual experience. It parses images with exceptional speed and acuity to produce a detailed representation of the world. We analyze these two visual pathways in parallel to learn how a common signal, light, is diversified by neural circuits to serve a varied palette of behavioral needs.
Our research has relevance to human health. Because light is the principal cue for setting the circadian clock, our work uncovers mechanisms of circadian regulation and may provide a rational basis for the treatment of circadian dysregulation, which has been implicated in mental illness, metabolic disorders, and cancer. In addition, by investigating the underpinnings of visual perception, we provide a framework for the treatment of blindness resulting from diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. To strengthen the connections between our work and the clinic, we maintain collaborations with physicians and translational scientists.
Further information about the laboratory can be found by visiting our web page or contacting us.
For a complete listing of publications click here.
Last Update: 11/7/2013