Sarah McFarlane, PhD

I have worked the last 25 years trying to understand how eye cells are made, connect to one another, and stay healthy as we age. I grew up outside Montreal and did my BSc (1987) and PhD (1992) at McGill University. Here I developed an interest in the nervous system and how neural circuits are formed. I was lucky to join the lab of Dr. Christine Holt at the University of California, San Diego in 1993, to continue my research training, trying to understand at a single cell level how the retinal cells of the eye connect with brain. This was a wonderful time of learning and experimenting that set me up to take a job as an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in 1993. I have been here since, working with an excellent cadre of vision biologists and developmental biologists. I have been a full professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy since 2007, and continue to work actively in the lab and take a particular interest in graduate education. My lab is currently moving our interest in retinal circuit formation in a new and related direction: how these circuits need to be protected over time to ensure proper visual function. In particular, we are asking how molecules that are important in eye development both prevent and protect against damage in disease states such as AMD and encourage regeneration of cells and their nerve fibers after injury.