|Name||Christophe P. Ribelayga|
Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Science
He was a faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University in Columbus (USA) from 2005 to 2009 and moved to his current position in the Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at The University of Texas in Houston (USA) in 2009. He has also joined the faculty at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston in 2009. Dr. Ribelayga’s laboratory studies the function of circadian clocks in the retina, and in particular the role of circadian clocks as adaptive processes to the predictable changes in ambient light intensity. Dr. Ribelayga was an early proponent of studying circadian clocks in the retina, as retinal clocks represent an important physiological mechanism regulating day and night vision. His more recent work has focused on the circadian clock regulation of photoreceptor electrical coupling and its role in the activity of the rod and cone pathways. Dr. Ribelayga has co-authored several widely cited reviews of the biology and physiological impact of circadian clocks in the vertebrate retina.
Simply put, my research aims to understand how we see during the day and night. Our visual system is remarkable in that it can operate under the bright midday sun, at night under starlight, and at all times in between when ambient light intensity varies by more than 10 billion fold.The mechanisms responsible for this remarkable adaptation are known to primarily originate in the eye and more specifically in its sensory part, the retina. Adaptation to the daily changes in ambient light intensity in the retinadepends on a specificfunctional architecture, including 2 types of photoreceptors, rods and cones, and a wide variety ofneuronal mechanismsencompassing both adaptive mechanisms driven by ambient light and endogenous mechanisms, such as circadian clocks.The main property of circadian clocks is that they are self-sustained in nature, and therefore they function even in the absence of time cues, such asin constant conditions (i.e. constant darkness) with a period of approximately 24 h, hence the termcircadian(from the Latincirca dies, which translates into “about one day”). Circadian clocks in the retinakeep track of the highly predictable daily changes in the ambient light intensity, thus helping the retina to anticipate the abrupt changes in lighting conditions at transition times (i.e. dawn and dusk) and optimize retinal processing for high-acuity low-sensitivity daytime vision or low-acuity high-sensitivity nighttime vision. Genetic dysfunction of the retinal clocks or of circadian signaling in the retina produces marked deficits in retinal responses to light and compromises retinal cell viability. Thus, functional circadian clocks are essential for normal maintenance and function of the retina.
Our long-term goal is to understand how circadian clocks in the retina modulate retinal function on a daily basis, and whyclockmalfunction impinges on information processing and cell viability. We expect that our work will bring us closer to fully understand why circadian timing is so critical in the retina. We also expect that understanding how circadian clocks control neuronal activity and functional pathways in the retina will be of great benefit towards our understanding of the general rules governing circadian clock function and neuroplasticity in the central nervous system.
Ph.D., received his degree in Neuroscience from the University Louis Pasteur (France) in 2000 and followed with postdoctoral training at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (USA).
retina, circadian clock, electrical synapses, connexin, gap junction, rod and cone pathways, adaptation, neural circuits