Carla Shatz is a developmental neurobiologist who discovered a key role for spontaneously firing nerve cells of the retina in connecting visual pathways in the brain. She has explored how this spatial ordering is controlled, discovering that neural activity can trigger the production of a surprising array of regulatory molecules.
Recording spontaneous waves in the retinal ganglion cells of mice before birth, Carla showed that these were essential to the formation of eye-specific layers in the first relay station in the visual pathway. She screened for genes that were turned on by neural activity, finding they included genes that normally play a role in immunity.
Prof Shatz has investigated how these molecules contribute to synaptic plasticity, learning, memory and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2011 Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience and the 2012 Sackler Prize in Developmental Psychobiology.
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
Physiology incl biophysics of cells (non-clinical), Cellular neuroscience