Zelun Wang

Program: Neurosciences

Current advisor: Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD

Undergraduate university: Rice University

Research summary
Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are neurons that form the conduit between the eye and the brain. RGCs are vulnerable to various injury mechanisms and undergo degeneration in glaucoma, a disease causing vision loss estimated to affect 74 million people worldwide. However, not all RGCs are equally susceptible to degeneration. The precise mechanisms determining this differential resilience are largely unknown. One likely factor affecting RGC survival is energy metabolism, the ways in which cells produce and consume ATP. We are characterizing the variability in key metabolic pathways within RGCs during degeneration and hope to discover characteristics associated with increased survival after injury. This research has the potential to reveal cellular processes that improve our understanding of neurodegeneration, as well as inform the development of novel therapeutic strategies for glaucoma and other neurologic diseases.

Graduate publications
Wang Z, McCracken S, Williams PR. 2021 Transpupillary Two-photon In vivo Imaging of the Mouse Retina. J Vis Exp, (168):.

Wang Z, Koenig AL, Lavine KJ, Apte RS. 2019 Macrophage Plasticity and Function in the Eye and Heart. Trends Immunol, 40(9):825-41.