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John O'brien


John O'Brien, Ph.D.

John O'Brien, Ph.D.


Dr. John O’Brien joined UHCO as a Professor in Vision Science in 2021. Dr. O’Brien earned his B.A. in Biochemistry at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. O’Brien entered the field of vision research in a post-doc with mentors Harris Ripps and Muayyad Al-Ubaidi at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  There he cloned connexins that form electrical synapses in retinal neurons, setting the stage for a large fraction of the research he has performed since then.  In 1998, Dr. O’Brien joined the Ophthalmology faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, in which his lab conducted research on retinal electrical synapses. Dr. O’Brien has published extensively on this topic and has been funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) since 2000. Dr. O’Brien has recently begun to study regeneration of rod photoreceptors in a transgenic zebrafish model of Retinitis Pigmentosa developed in his lab.  His group has applied single-cell transcriptomics to map out transcriptional pathways involved in the proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells to form new rods and to study the role of microglia in retinal regeneration.  His lab is applying a variety of molecular and genetic techniques to investigate these pathways.