This is an application by a group of 10 investigators to install a Zeiss LSM 780, a new generation confocal microscope suitable for multi-channel analysis of retinal circuitry and development. This model has "pig-tail" laser inputs to accommodate a variety of laser lines, high efficiency/low noise detectors and spectral analysis. These developments will make it possible to conduct 4 or 5 channel labeling experiments. The LSM 780 is self contained and menu-driven making it suitable for a multi-user facility. The instrument will be installed in the Confocal Module of the Vision Core Grant housed in the Department of Ophthalmology. This Vision Core facility is heavily used by 10 investigators conducting research on the visual system, including 8 supported by NEI, NIH programs. The service contract will be supported by the Ophthalmology department and there will be no usage charges for this group of investigators. The group is very well known for imaging studies of the retina with 6 recent cover pictures in peer-reviewed journals. In the broadest terms, we seek to understand the structure, function and development of the mammalian retina;such knowledge may lead to new strategies to alleviate visual disorders resulting from photoreceptor degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy.
The mammalian retina is our window to the visual world. It is a complex self-optimizing network built from approximately 60 types of neurons. We will use multi-channel imaging techniques to discover new cell types, to relate structure to function, to decode neural circuits and to follow the steps of retinal development. A sound base of such knowledge is essential to develop new strategies to alleviate retinal conditions leading to blindness.