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Mechanism of dopamine release in the 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

Dopaminergic amacrine cells (DACs) of the retina release dopamine in response to light stimulation. Over recent years, the electrophysiological inputs to dopaminergic amacrine cells (DACs) have been defined in great detail, showing that all three photoreceptor classes: rods, cones and melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells (mRGCs), provide substantial input to these cells. Conversely however, measurement of dopamine release in response to light does not correlate with these results as mRGCs input alone does not drive dopamine release. Release of dopamine from midbrain neurons has recently been shown to display similar characteristics where spiking alone is not enough to explain the release of dopamine.

The retina represents an ideal model to study the function of dopaminergic cells of the central nervous system (CNS) in general given the well-defined and accessible nature of the tissue. In this project we will examine directly the relationship of electrophysiological activity to that of dopamine release using patch-clamp electrophysiology, carbon fibre amperometry and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). Given that dopamine dysfunction in the CNS underlies many aspects of neurological disease and degeneration, understanding the mechanism dopamine release has the potential to inform treatment of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Experience in the techniques listed above is preferred but not necessary as full training will be given, however, candidates must have an interest in neuroscience/retinal biology and a life sciences/bioengineering 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

Candidates will be selected based on current qualifications, publications, experience, and interview. Direct funding may be available.

The scholarship will include a fee-waiver and a personal stipend of $30,000 per annum.


Pérez-Fernández V., N. Milosavljevic, A. E. Allen, K. A. Vessey, A. I. Jobling, E. L. Fletcher, P. P. Breen, J. W. Morley and M. A. Cameron (2019). "Rod Photoreceptor Activation Alone Defines the Release of Dopamine in the Retina." Curr Biol 29(5): 763-774 e765.

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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