Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Ophthalmology

Basic Vision Research

Across both the Evanston and Chicago campuses of Northwestern, more than 30 physicians and scientists are actively pursuing new knowledge to improve the quality of life and options for adults and children with diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to our faculty members with primary appointments in the Department of Ophthalmology, we collaborate in vision research with many faculty members outside our department, including Biomedical Engineering, Neurobiology, Dermatology, and Physiology.

Basic Scientists

Find out more about our vision scientists’ research interests and specialties via the information below.


Tsutomu Kume, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry
Research Interest: Role of FoxC transcription factors in development of the cornea and mechanisms underlying corneal angiogenesis in FoxC mutations.

Robert M. Lavker, PhD

Professor of Dermatology
Research Interest: The laboratory focuses on the biology of epithelial stem cells and the cornea, and the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in regulating corneal homeostasis.


Mark Johnson, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Ophthalmology, Feinberg School of Medicine
Research Interest: Cellular mechanics and the hydrodynamics of glaucoma; the role of lipids in AMD; transport through connective tissues; esophageal transport; and chaos and diffusion.

Paul A. Knepper, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Research Interest: Research focuses on the cause, treatment and prevention of glaucoma and Alzheimer's disease. The laboratory specializes in discovering biomarkers of these disease processes.

Xiarong Liu, PhD

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
Research Interest: The investigation of the regulation and misregulation of neural structures and functions in normal retinal development and in glaucoma.

John B. Troy, PhD

Chair and Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Ophthalmology, Feinberg School of Medicine
Research Interest: Processing and analysis of images by the mammalian visual system; functional circuitry of the retina; signal theory applied to visual physiology; light adaptation; neural coding; visual prostheses; electrode technology for neural recording and stimulation; glaucoma.


Cell Biology and Development

Ravi Allada, MD

Chair and Professor of Neurobiology
Research Interest: Research is focused on the circadian regulation of sleep behavior using the fruit fly Drosophila and incorporates a variety of approaches including biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, cell culture, electrophysiology, anatomy, and behavior.

Richard Carthew, PhD

Owen L. Coon Professor of Molecular Biosciences
Research Interest: The laboratory is interested in understanding how microRNAs specifically inhibit their target genes and the biological consequences of this regulation. The laboratory works on function of microRNAs to promote the differentiation of photoreceptor neurons in the fruit fly, Drosophila.

Nikia A. Laurie, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Eloise and Warren Batts Research Scholar
Research Interest: The laboratory mission is to understand the molecular mechanisms associated with retinoblastoma progression in order to facilitate the identification of novel therapeutic targets.

Robert Listernick, MD

Professor of Pediatrics
Research Interest: Natural history and treatment of optic pathway tumors in children with neurofibromatosis-1.

Susan E. Quaggin, MD

Charles H. Mayo Professor of Medicine-Nephrology
Director, Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute
Research Interest: The major research focus is on the genetic and molecular pathways that establish and maintain complex capillary structures, particularly those forming the renal glomerular filtration barrier. Other interests include the mechanisms of angiogenesis and neovascularization in the retina.

Vijay P. Sarthy, PhD

Magerstadt Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
Research Interest: Neuron-glia interactions in the retina; Roles of Müller (glia) cells in the pathogenesis of retinal degenerations and diabetic retinopathy.

Circuitry and Function

Steven H. DeVries, MD, PhD

David Shoch, MD PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Physiology
Research Interest: How visual information is processed by local networks of retinal neurons, and synaptic transmission.

Gregory Schwartz, PhD

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
Assistant Professor of Physiology
Research Interest: The research program in computational neuroscience and systems neurophysiology relates to our understanding of how ganglion cells respond to various light stimuli. In addition, the laboratory studies the visual processing circuits in the inner synaptic layer of the retina.

Yongling Zhu, PhD

Assistant Professor in Department of Ophthalmology
Research Interest: The laboratory studies the structure and function of genetically isolated retina circuits with anatomical, physiological and imaging tools.

Degenerations and Diabetic Retinopathy

Amani Fawzi, MD

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Research Interest: Translational approaches to age related macular degeneration and ischemic retinal diseases with a special focus on functional retinal imaging and image-guided interventions.

Jack Henkin, PhD

Senior Translational Fellow
Research Professor
Center for Developmental Therapeutics
Department of Chemistry
Research Interest: Current research is focused angiogenesis with emphasis on ameliorating neovascular diseases of the retina and the female reproductive system.

Robert Linsenmeier, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Ophthalmology, Feinberg School of Medicine
Research Interest: The microenvironment of the mammalian retina, including oxygen and pH regulation in health and disease; engineering education research.

Kiang J. Liu, PhD

Professor of Preventive Medicine
Research Interest: Multiethnic study of atherosclerosis.

Mark E. Molitch, MD

Martha Leland Sherwin Professor
Department of Medicine
Research Interest: Pathogenesis and treatment of pituitary tumors and treatment of diabetic complications.

Justin B. Starren, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine
Research Interest: Development of intuitive, novel Human Computer Interfaces for healthcare.

Olga Volpert, PhD

Associate Professor of Urology
Research Interest: The main area of study focuses on the molecular mechanisms of angiogenesis, the process by which new vascular bed forms.

Functional Imaging

Hao Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Feinberg School of Medicine
Research Interest: Novel optical imaging technologies for ophthalmic application.

Visual Processing

James Baker, PhD

Professor of Physiology
Research Interest: Studies of vestibular and visual sensory systems and the reflex motor outputs to the eyes, neck, and limbs.

Jianhua Cang, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurobiology
Research Interest: By integrating in vivo electrophysiology, functional imaging, genetics, behavioral and computational approaches, the laboratory studies the neural basis of activity-dependent development in the mouse visual system.

David Ferster, PhD

Professor of Neurobiology
Research Interest: The laboratory is studying the neuronal mechanisms by which visual cortex performs transformation of information from the eye. Neuronal connections are traced within the cortex and their functions observed during normal vision by recording intracellularly from neurons in vivo using a patch recording method developed in the lab.

Steven Franconeri, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology
Research Interest: The laboratory explores how the visual system transforms a raw image into objects and relations, and why our visual system encounters limitations in how many things we can process at once.

William Kath, PhD

Professor of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics
Research Interest: Development of computational models of the neural circuitry of the mammalian retina that links the pathways responsible for night and daylight vision.

Konrad Kording, PhD

Associate Professor of Physiology
Research Interest: Theory as well as computational and neural modeling to understand how information is processed in the nervous system.

Mark Segraves, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurobiology
Research Interest: The laboratory uses the eye movement system as a model for how the brain of primates, including man, controls a variety of movements. Research work focuses upon areas of the rhesus monkey's prefrontal cortex and midbrain that help to control eye movements.

Satoro Suzuki, PhD

Professor of Psychology
Research Interest: A major goal of the research is to understand the cortical mechanisms that enable people to perceive coherent global forms from retinal illumination patterns that are often ambiguous as to what meaningful forms and configurations are present.

Contact Us

We welcome your interest in our research. Please contact Vijay P. Sarthy, PhD, Magerstadt Professor of Ophthalmology, for more information.

Vijay P. Sarthy, PhD
Department of Ophthalmology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
645 N. Michigan, Suite 440
Chicago, IL 60611-2969
Phone: 312-908-8152
Fax: 312-503-8152