Ann C. Morris, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Department of Biology
Institution
University of Kentucky
Address
215 T.H. Morgan Building
City, State, Zip
Lexington, KY 40506-0225
Phone
(859) 257-8823
E-mail
ann.morris[at]uky.edu
Website
https://bio.as.uky.edu/users/acmo224
Research Field
Neuroscience; Genetics
Award Year
2011

Research

Our laboratory studies cellular differentiation and gene expression in the vertebrate retina, the photosensitive lining at the back of the eye. The light-capturing neurons of the retina are the photoreceptors. Rod photoreceptors mediate dim light vision, whereas cone photoreceptors mediate daytime and color vision. Photoreceptor degeneration associated with ocular diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, and retinal detachment is a significant cause of visual impairment and blindness, for which there is currently no cure. One promising avenue of research is to study the retinas of vertebrate animals that innately possess the capacity to regenerate retinal neurons following injury. For this reason, the zebrafish retina represents a valuable model system in which to study the mechanisms of neural progenitor proliferation, differentiation, and photoreceptor regeneration. One of the projects in my laboratory involves identifying the genetic pathways that mediate photoreceptor development and regeneration in zebrafish. A second project involves the generation of zebrafish models of human retinitis pigmentosa in which we have temporal control over photoreceptor degeneration and regeneration. Overall, our research spans several areas of interest, including developmental biology, genetics, molecular and cellular biology, and neuroscience.