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From Building a Ciliary Light Sensor to Extracellular Vesicle Release and Retinal Disease

From Building a Ciliary Light Sensor to Extracellular Vesicle Release and Retinal Disease

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The Spencer Lab studies rod and cone photoreceptor cells and their outer segment organelle — a type of gigantic primary cilium that is filled with hundreds of light sensitive “disc” shaped membranes. To cope with oxidative stress, photoreceptor cells continuously renew their disc membranes through a process which is error-prone. Defects in disc formation lead to incurable, blinding retinal diseases in humans such as retinitis pigmentosa. The lab’s primary goals are to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying photoreceptor disc formation and how defects in this process can lead to accumulation of extracellular vesicles, microglia activation and retinal degeneration. Addressing normal and pathological functioning of the photoreceptor’s outer segment is not only valuable for visual and ciliary science, but may lead to the development of future therapies for blinding retinopathies, ciliopathies and/or other neurodegenerative diseases.

Contact: William J. Spencer, PhD Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
Location: 3609 Institute For Human Performance
Phone: (315) 464-8127
Email: spencerw@upstate.edu
Dr. Spencer in his lab

Dr. Spencer received his PhD and completed his postdoctoral work at Duke University where he was funded by career development awards from the NIH and Knights Templar Eye Foundation. His expertise encompasses retinal cell biology, biochemistry, immunology and mass spectrometry. Dr. Spencer also is experienced in electron microscopy and serves as the scientific co-director of the electron microscopy core facility at Upstate Medical University.