College of Veterinary Medicine

Research in IPN

Deborah Stenkamp, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Phone: (208) 885-8963

The Stenkamp lab is interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of vertebrate retinal development and regeneration, with specific focus on the differentiation and aging of photoreceptors and ganglion cells. Zebrafish are the primary experimental models used in the lab, since they develop rapidly, have multiple photoreceptor subtypes that can be easily identified, continue to grow new retinal tissue throughout life and can be manipulated genetically.

The lab's major area of investigation currently is the involvement of specific factors such as the signaling protein, sonic hedgehog and the Vitamin A derivative, retinoic acid, in regulating the differentiation of rod and cone photoreceptors. The aim is to better define the sources of these factors in the developing retina and determine their effects on photoreceptors and other retinal cells by using gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches, including the examination of specific zebrafish mutants and the creation of transgenic zebrafish with inducible genes. This project receives funding from the National Eye Institute.

Two other projects in the lab are receiving support from two foundations: The Glaucoma Foundation, for the study of ganglion cell regeneration in zebrafish; and The American Health Assistance Foundation, for the pursuit of a zebrafish model for age-related macular degeneration. These are both exciting new directions for the laboratory as they apply knowledge of factors involved in development of retinal cells to the analysis and treatment of human visual disorders.

The laboratory also participates in an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program emphasizing computational neuroscience. This program is highly interdisciplinary, involving faculty from Biological Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In summer 2004, 16 undergraduates from around the Northwest participated in the program. Dr. Stenkamp is the director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UI, and is on the Editorial Review Board for Molecular Vision,, a peer-reviewed and award-winning online journal of vision research.

Biographical Information

Deborah L. Stenkamp is a Northwest native (Boise, Idaho), and earned her BA degree in Biology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA (1987), and received her Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD (1993). From 1993-1997 she worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. In 1997 she joined the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID, and has been adjunct faculty with the IPN Neuroscience graduate program.

Selected Publications

Prabhudesai SN, Cameron DA, Stenkamp DL. 2005. Targeted effects of retinoic acid signaling upon photoreceptor development in zebrafish. Developmental Biology. 287(1):157-67

Stenkamp DL, Calderwood JL, Van Niel EE, Daniels LM, and Gonzalez-Fernandez F. 2005. The interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein (IRBP) of the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). Molecular Vision 11:833-845

Shupe JM, Kristan DM, Austad SN, Stenkamp DL. 2006. The eye of the laboratory mouse remains anatomically adapted for natural conditions. Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 67:39-52

Stenkamp DL and Frey RA. 2003. Extraretinal and retinal hedgehog signaling sequentially regulate retinal neurogenesis in zebrafish. Developmental Biology. 258(2):349-63

Stenkamp DL, Frey RA, Mallory DE and Shupe EE. 2002. Embryonic retinal gene expression in sonic-you mutant zebrafish. Developmental Dynamics. 225:344-350.

Stenkamp DL, Powers MK, Carney LH and Cameron DA. 2001. Evidence for two distinct mechanisms of neurogenesis and cellular pattern formation in regenerated goldfish retinas. Journal of Comparative Neurology 431:363-381.
Last Edited: Apr 09, 2013 10:26 AM   

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