Z. Jimmy Zhou, PhD

Marvin L. Sears Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Professor of Neuroscience; Vice Chairman and Director of Research, Ophthalmology and Visual Science

Research Interests

Neurobiology; Ophthalmology; Physiology; Retina; Retinal Diseases

Research Organizations


Cellular & Molecular Physiology

Faculty Research

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Summary

My laboratory is interested in understanding the physiology, functional circuitry, and development of the mammalian retina under normal and pathological conditions. Our current research focuses on (1) mechanisms of visual signal processing in the retina, with an emphasis on neuronal interactions and neural circuits underlying direction selectivity and other forms of visual computation, (2) mechanisms of synaptic transmission and dual neurotransmitter co-transmission between identified retinal neurons, (3) cellular and network mechanisms underlying spontaneous rhythmic activity in the developing retina (retinal waves) and activity-dependent visual system development, (4) mechanisms of retinal diseases and restoration of visual function in animal models. The experimental techniques used in our lab include single and dual patch-clamp recording together with optogenetics and laser spot photolysis in the wholemount mammalian retina, two-photon imaging of synaptic and dendritic activities using synthetic and genetically encoded calcium and neurotransmitter sensors, gene transfection (in vivo electroporation and viral transfection), multielectrode array recording, and computational modeling.

Specialized Terms: physiology and development of the mammalian retina under normal and pathological conditions; organization and function of retinal synapses and circuits; mechanisms of retinal diseases

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Z. Jimmy Zhou, PhD
Office Location
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science300 George Street, Ste Suite 8100D
New Haven, CT 06511
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Mailing Address
OphthalmologyYale University School of Medicine
300 George Street, Suite 8100

New Haven, CT 06510
Research Image 1

On the cover: Motion and motion direction, illustrated here by the movement of six pool balls in a "starburst shot," are first detected in the retina by a synaptic circuit involving starburst amacrine cells (shown with Lucifer yellow filling). In this issue, Lee et al. show that starburst cells corelease ACh and GABA onto direction-selective ganglion cells at spatially symmetric cholinergic and spatially asymmetric GABAergic synapses, respectively. The cholinergic transmission facilitates motion detection, while the GABAergic transmission mediates direction selectivity.