Quinlan, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Quinlan
Professor
Department of Biology
Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences
1110 Bioscience Research Building
Phone: 
301-405-7396
General Research Interests: 
  • Development of the vertebrate visual system,
  • Cellular and molecular basis of learning and memory

The goal of my research is to understand how experience differentially influences the juvenile versus adult mammalian brain.  A primary focus is the role of experience in the regulation of the visual system.  Pioneering work in the mammalian visual system demonstrated a significant decline in experience-dependent synaptic plasticity over the course of postnatal development. One of the severe consequences of the loss of experience-dependent synaptic plasticity is the inability to recover from form-deprivation amblyopia (Amblyopia ex anopsia) caused a unilateral congenital cataract.  If untreated, neurons in the binocular cortex become dominated by the unaffected eye, and resistant to recovery by removal of the cataract.  Recently we have developed a method (binocular visual deprivation through dark exposure) that allows for the recovery from severe amblyopia in rodents, even when a monocular occlusion is initiated immediately at eye opening and continues until adulthood.  This work was recognized with the 2010 Advancement of Science Award by the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association.  Currently, we are using a multidisciplinary analysis that includes electrophysiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and behavior to characterize the functional consequences, and the molecular mechanisms, by which dark exposure promotes the recovery from chronic deprivation amblyopia.

Background: 

Education

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 1993
Post-doc, University of Virginia, 1993-1996
Post-doc, Brown University, 1996-2000