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Psych Speaker Series welcomes NU alum Dr. Nickerson


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​Nipissing University’s Psychology Speaker Series welcomes Dr. Philip Nickerson, of the Krembil Research Institute Toronto Western Hospital, back to campus for a lecture titled Repairing Vision, on Friday, November 25 at 11:30 a.m. in room H104.

Dr. Nickerson graduated from Nipissing in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science, specializing in Neuroscience and Psychology. He earned a Masters and Doctoral degree from Dalhousie University. He did post-doctoral work at the University of Victoria, before returning to Halifax to work as a research assistant. He began work in Dr. Valarie Wallace’s laboratory at Toronto Western Hospital and the Krembil Research Institute in 2015. The focus of his work is to generate new standards of basic science in vision research, and to translate our discoveries in basic science into tangible treatment options for patients.

Here is an abstract on his talk:

There have been significant advances in the therapeutic delivery of neuronal cell types of the central nervous system. Stem/progenitor cells can be procured from various embryonic and adult tissue sources, and induced to generate specific classes of cells that are often lost in circumstances of disease or injury. The retina, which mediates vision in vertebrates, suffers from the inability to regenerate or repair itself, resulting in permanent blindness following the loss of key cell types. One class of cell in the retina, the photoreceptor, is particularly susceptible to injury in humans, and its loss in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration results in permanent impairment or loss of vision that cannot be rescued. The restoration of visual circuitry in blind mouse models has been demonstrated, however. These studies involve the surgical delivery of photoreceptors that have been genetically labeled with green fluorescent protein (GFP), or related fluorescent protein analogues. The utility of GFP for use in tracking transplanted cells hinges on the assumption that GFP signal remains in the donor cell, allowing us to resolve donor and host cell populations. In this talk, I present strong evidence that more than a decade of cell transplantation in the eye has advanced without rigorous testing of this assumption, and as a consequence of this, suffers from widespread misinterpretation of results. Specifically, our lab has demonstrated that transplanted rod and cone photoreceptors transfer GFP and other materials to resident cells of the host recipient retina. This transfer process is facilitated by disruptions in the retinal architecture of transgenic and degenerative recipient retinas. Furthermore, we disprove the conventional viewpoint that transplanted retinal cells integrate into host tissue, justifying a re-interpretation of cell transplantation science.​

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