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New recruit enriches vision research potential at Krembil Research Institute

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Michael Reber
Dr. Michael Reber who comes to UHN from the Institute of Cellular & Integrative Neurosciences in Strasbourg, France, is an expert in computational biology and mathematics. (Photo: UHN)

The Krembil research community will welcome its newest member this week: Dr. Michael Reber, a neurobiologist with expertise in computational biology and mathematics.

Dr. Reber's research program examines the brain's visual network, which consists of interconnected "webs" of cells that transmit and process visual information from the eyes. He uses a combination of experimental and mathematical models to reveal how the development and organization of the visual network is directed by particular molecules in the brain and eye.

Many of his studies have focused on a family of molecules known as ephrins. He and his colleagues have shown that gradients of ephrins direct the development of the visual network in the superior colliculus, a region in the middle of the brain.

They have also found that disturbing ephrin gradients can lead to a duplication of some parts of the visual network, which produces symptoms similar to those observed in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Upon his arrival in Toronto, where he will be based at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, Dr. Reber will continue studying the brain's visual network. He will also begin examining how diseases of the retina and optic nerve affect its development. For example, he and Dr. Jeremy Sivak are planning to investigate how glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness, affects the visual network. Through another exciting project, he will validate the use of silk nanofibers to promote survival and repair of injured brain cells.

Before joining Krembil, Dr. Reber was an Associate Professor at the Institute of Cellular & Integrative Neurosciences in Strasbourg, France. He completed his PhD at Paris Diderot University in France and his postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute in California.

Dr. Reber's recruitment was made possible by the generous support of Donald K. and Anna Johnson through the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.​

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