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Our research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie retinal development and diseases. We utilize genetic and genomic tools to uncover how different types of retinal cells, including retinal neurons, glia and the vasculature, respond to developmental cues and disease insults at the epigenomic and transcriptional levels, and how they interact and collectively contribute to the integrity of the retina. <br/><br/>1. Retinal cell fate specification.<br/>We are using genetic tools and methods, such as in vivo plasmid electroporation and CRISPR, to dissect the roles of cis-regulatory elements and transcription factors in controlling retinal cell fate specification.<br/><br/>2. The multicellular responses elicited by diabetes in the retina.<br/>Diabetes can induce multicellular responses in the retina, including vascular lesions, glial dysfunction and neurodegeneration, all of which contribute to retinopathy. We are using diabetic rats as models to investigate the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying the diabetes-induced multicellular responses, and the disease mechanisms of diabetic retinopathy. <br/><br/>3. Molecular tools that allow for cell type-specific labeling and manipulation in vivo.<br/>Cis-regulatory elements, such as enhancers, play essential roles in directing tissue/cell type-specific and stage-specific expression. We are interested in identifying enhancers that can drive cell type-specific expression in the retina and brain, and incorporating them into plasmid or AAV based delivery systems.