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Research interests

The goal of my research program is to identify the mechanisms by which a common retinal progenitor is intrinsically instructed to generate a temporally regulated program of retinal cell type specification. We aim to understand how a progenitor cell is selected to (A) undergo a neurogenic division, (B) specify as as a retinal neuron or glia, and (C) how these mechanisms change across development and correspond to changes in cell type identity.

Using single cell RNA-sequencing on the developing mouse and human retina (Clark and Stein-O'Brien, et al, 2019; Neuron; Lu and Shiau, et al., 2020; Dev Cell), we are beginning to understand the transcriptional signature of retinal progenitors across development and during the process of retinal neurogenesis. We have identified numerous genes with unknown retinal function that display both dynamic and temporally restricted expression patterns that we hypothesize to be important in the regulation of retinal development. Using a suite of moderate to high-throughput techniques, we aim to identify the mechanisms by which these genes function to control retinal neurogenesis and cell fate specification. Current efforts are focused on examining similarities and differences in retinal neurogenesis and cell type specification across vertebrate species and how progenitor quiescence is induced.

While many of the candidate genes encode for proteins, the lab is also focused on understanding the roles of long, non-protein coding RNAs (lncRNAs) during retinal development and the mechanisms by which these unique bio-molecules function. This studies include development and implementation of novel technologies to understand lncRNA functions genome wide. Combined, we anticipate these studies to expand our understanding on the mechanisms governing transcriptional regulation and cell fate specification.


As progress - socially, economically, and scientifically - is enhanced by input from diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, the Clark lab is committed to providing an inclusive training environment for all, regardless of one's identity/beliefs/background. Together, as an inclusive entity, we strive for progress in both science and beyond.

Available to Mentor:

  • PhD/MSTP Students


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