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Influence of melanopsin-containing ganglion cell photoreceptors on the physiology of the mammalian retina

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The neural network of the mammalian retina is one of the most studied within the central nervous system. However, surprises are still common, with a third type of photoreceptor discovered in recent years. Melanopsin containing ganglion cells (mRGCs) are located on the opposite side of the retina from the classical rod and cone photoreceptors, and play a role in a number of sub-conscious functions like pupil light contraction, entrainment of biological clocks to the light-dark cycle and as well as contributing to aspects of conscious visual perception. Additionally, mRGCs are thought to be involved with many aspects of local retinal physiology, but this research area is in its infancy. This project will use cutting-edge chemogenetic tools to assess the impact of mRGC activation on retinal function. This will be assessed using a variety of methods in transgenic mice, ranging from in vivo electroretinographic recordings, to light-induced dopamine release. Techniques involved will be in vitro electrophysiology, in vivo electroretinogram, immunohistochemistry and UHPLC-MS/MS quantification of dopamine. No technical experience is necessary as full training will be given, however candidates must have an interest in neuroscience/retinal biology and a life sciences/medical background.

Western Sydney University (Australia) is ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities under the age of 50 in the Times Higher Education rankings and is located approximately 1 hr from Sydney CBD.

Funding Notes

Competitive scholarships are available to fund PhD study for domestic and international students and will depend on the following main criteria:
1. Postgraduate studies - Masters by research, Honours degree (with 1 year research project), Masters by coursework.
2. Research Output - Publications, patents, research experience (employment).

Scholarships will include a stipend of $30,000 per annum.


Cameron, M., Pozdeyev, N., Vulger, A., Cooper, H., Iuvone, P. and Lucas, R. (2009), 'Light regulation of retinal dopamine that is independent of melanopsin phototransduction', European Journal of Neuroscience, vol 29, no 4 , pp 761 - 767.

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