Primary Faculty/Secondary Faculty

David Calkins, Ph.D.

Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Denis M. O'Day, M.B.B.S., Chair in Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

11425 Langford-MRB4 2213 Garland Avenue, Nashville, TN, 37205

Research Description

The laboratory focuses in the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in the visual pathways in health, aging and disease. The retina and optic nerve represent the early central nervous system components of the visual pathway, transmitting information from the eye to multiple relay centers in the brain. With aging, both become susceptible to degenerative diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and non-arteritic anterior optic neuropathy. Indeed glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, estimated to afflict some 80 million people by 2020. As such, as laboratory has developed a program to probe the earliest molecular events associated with neurodegeneration in glaucoma, focusing on cascades and pathways modulating sensitivity and susceptibility to glaucoma-related stressors, such as age and ocular pressure. Particular emphasis is placed on the intrinsic response of retinal neurons and their axons in the optic nerve to these stressors and on pharmacological and genetic means to modulate this response. The laboratory also focuses on extrinsic signals from glial cells in the retina and optic nerve that also affect neuronal survival and the pathogenesis of the disease. Tools include animal models, electrophysiology, cell culture preparations, in vivo imaging, functional transport assays, single-cell RT-PCR, protein localization and quantification, automated digital light and electron microscopy, and both genomic and proteomic approaches.

Selected Publications