Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


by Cathryn Delude

November 12th, 2012

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology Joshua Sanes will speak at Harvey Society’s lecture series on November 15 at 8:00 PM at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

Sanes’ lecture is entitled Wiring Up the Retina, and addresses several key questions in neuroscience: how are complex neural circuits assembled in young animals and how do they process information in adults?

Joshua Sanes summarizes his work as follows: “The retina may be the first part of the mammalian brain for which satisfactory answers to these questions will be obtained. The retina is about as complex as any other part of the brain, but it has several features that facilitate analysis: it is accessible, compact, and structurally regular, and we already know a lot about what it does. Visual information is passed from retinal photoreceptors to interneurons to retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and then on to the rest of the brain. Each of ~25 types of RGC responds to a visual feature—for example motion in a particular direction—based on which of the ~70 interneuronal types synapse on it. To understand how these circuits form, we mark retinal cell types transgenically, map their connections, seek recognition molecules that mediate their arrangement and synaptic connectivity, and use genetic methods to assess the structural and functional consequences of removing or swapping them. We believe that our methods and results will be useful in tackling less accessible parts of the brain such as the cerebral cortex.”

The Harvey lecture series is one of the most distinguished in the country and the annual books of the lectures are well known throughout the world. The Society’s Council selected lecturers from among the leading biomedical researchers worldwide. The events are held at Caspary Hall on the campus of The Rockefeller University at York Avenue and East 66th Street in New York City.  

View Joshua Sanes's Faculty Profile