Welcome to the Yates Lab! Website Under Construction.
Our laboratory conducts basic and translational research into the development and regulation of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and blood vessels as they relate to retinal diseases including retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
We are interested in the growth, branching and arbor remodeling of RGC neurons, which connect the eye to the brain. What starts as a disorganized set of connections from RGCs to their target, the superior colliculus, reorganizes over the course of development into a highly specific two dimensional retinotopic map that recapitulates the two dimensional spatial arrangement of the RGCs in the retina. Ongoing projects are studying how Ephrin-A dependent RGC axon-axon inhibition plays a role in determining arbor location and size within the map, how competition for space determines initial and final branching patterns on the axon, and the role of axonal degeneration through the DR6 receptor and cell death in shaping the final map. Our hope is that understanding how topographic patterning of retinal axons occurs will one day permit successful eye transplantation.
Aberrant growth of blood vessels lead to many eye diseases such as retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. We are interested in creating new approaches for treatment of these blinding diseases through projects that investigate stem cell therapies for repairing damaged blood vessels and creating novel light activated drugs to focally treat retinal vasculopathies. Basic research in the lab is also examining potential similarities in the mechanisms and molecules that control vascular and axonal branching by determining the role of Ephrins and VEGF in blood vessel growth at the level of the capillary sprout within the retinal micro-vascular network.