Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It is a group of eye diseases where raised intraocular pressure (IOP) occurs over time, leading to visual impairment, and eventually blindness. This raised IOP causes the progressive death of the output nerve cells (neurons) of the eye called retinal ganglion cells. Despite substantial research on this disease, the pathophysiology of glaucoma is not fully understood.
The retina is made up of light sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. It contains neurons that are important in the first stage of visual perception and visual processing. One of these neurons is called ganglion cells. They project from the retina to other regions within the brain (such as the lateral geniculate nucleus), and are important in the modification of complex visual signals.
To understand the pathophysiological changes in the properties of ganglion cells in glaucoma, we are using a mouse model. Techniques involved are intracellular recording techniques such as patch clamp and confocal microscopy. We will examine the properties of ganglion cells at different time points to allow comparisons before the development of glaucoma and during glaucoma with peak IOP. We will focus on the large alpha ganglion cells and characterise their basic physiological responses, which provide information about their health and behaviour such as spontaneous activity, contrast sensitivity and receptive field organisation. Thus, this project will contribute to our understanding of the effects of raised IOP characteristic of glaucoma on ganglion cell properties that ultimately leads to their death.
We published a video article which provides an overview of the techniques used and some of the projects we are working on.
For full access of the video and paper, click on the link below and type in your Unikey and password:
For full access of the video and partial access of the paper, click the link below:
This research is done in collaboration with Dr Dario Protti in the Discipline of Physiology.
Teaching and supervision
Dr Huang teaches Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology and Anatomy to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Dr Huang has extensive teaching experience. She has taught Medical, Medical Science and Science students, Health Sciences, Speech Science, Medical Radiation Sciences, Nursing and Paramedic students. Modes of delivery include lectures, practicals, tutorials, problem based learning, distance education and residential schools.
Current research students
|Project title||Research student|
|Cannabinoid effects on the visual system.||Xiaohui LIN|
A partner of the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program. http://www.scientistsinschools.edu.au
A member of:
- Glaucoma Australia Sustainability Liaison Committee.
- RAMP Research Ambassador & Mentoring Programme (DAAD Australia and AAvHF). https://www.ramp-australia.info
Awards and honours
Australian Postgraduate Award
- Subject/unit co-ordinator for Neuroscience (BIOS1171, Semester 1) and Clinically Based Neuroscience (BIOS5091).
- A member of the Learning and Teaching Committee of Discipline of Biomedical Science.
- School of Medical Sciences APR interviewer.
- Sydney Medical Program PPD and MMI interviewer.
- University Information day (January) and Open day (August) faculty advisor.
- Volunteer for Glaucoma Australia (http://www.glaucoma.org.au).
- Run outreach activities in high schools (see below).
Dr Huang leads a team of Scientists and actively promotes Brain Awareness to high school students and the public. Outreach activities tend to occur March (Brain Awareness Week) and August (Science Week). If you have studied Neuroscience, love to talk to kids and are willing to volunteer, please email Jin. If you are interested in organising a similar event, fell free to contact Jin. She is happy to forward you the program and lend some equipment. Student feedback scores for outreach activities have been very positive:
- Sydney International Grammar School - 4.7/5 for 2016; 4.6/5 for 2015
- Condell Park High School - 4.7/5 for 2016; 4.6/5 for 2015
Dr Huang was invited by the Australian Museum to perform outreach activities with kids on 23-24 September 2015 (Scientist For a Day: Lose Your Senses: http://australianmuseum.net.au/event/school-holiday-program) and with adults on 30 October 2015 (Jurassic Lounge Halloween: http://www.jurassiclounge.com/).
Honours project opportunities
- Understanding retinal ganglion cell function in glaucoma; Protti D, Huang J; Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation/Equipment Grant.