Research in our lab encompasses the disciplines of neurobiology and ecology. We are interested in how eye (retina) function and/or development is altered by the application of drugs, as a result of disease, or due to exposure to environmental contaminants. We are also interested in whether exposure to chemicals during development can have long-lasting effects evident in adults. Experiments are interdisciplinary using anatomical, physiological, and behavioral techniques. Ecological experiments focus on behaviors during the larval stage as well as factors that impact overall growth and development. This combination of techniques identifies both structural and functional changes that may occur as a result of compound/disease exposure.
At this time, we have two major research foci in the lab:
- Changes due to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) in the zebrafish Type 2 diabetes model. We developed an alternate immersion protocol for use with adult zebrafish that induces and maintains hyperglycemia for up to 8 weeks.Using this protocol, we reported that 4 weeks of exposure causes anatomical, physiological, and neurochemical changes in adult retinal tissue. Weight loss is apparent after 8 weeks of exposure. Current experiments are assessing cognitive changes in exposed adult animals. We are also performing experiments with zebrafish larvae to determine if hyperglycemia causes changes in Notch Signaling
- Using zebrafish to assess biological health of the Anacostia River. The Anacostia River has been the focus of remediation and clean-up efforts for several decades, with recent report cards showing improvement. This, more recent project, funded by the DC Water Resources Research Institute, involves collecting water from specific sites along the Anacostia and rearing zebrafish eggs/larvae in that water within a laboratory environment. These experiments will address how early fish development occurs in/is impacted by exposure to Anacostia River water. We are also performing water quality analysis on collected water samples to identify major contaminants in those samples. Once the major contaminants are identified, we will be performing companion experiments with those individual contaminants.