Dr. Steven Stasheff

Mission Statement

Our Goal:To understand and cure diseases that cause blindness in children.

Interests:: Our laboratory takes keen interest in hereditary retinal degenerations and pediatric neurologic diseases with prominent retinal dysfunction

Methods: We use a range of techniques in electrophysiology and molecular biology to understand how individual cells in the retina are damaged by genetic abnormalities.

Partnerships: Together with the Carver Family Center for Macular Degeneration, the Institute for Vision Research at Iowa, Mike Abramoff laboratory, the Sahin laboratory, the Boston Retinal Implant Project, and government funding agencies, we work to effectively treat those afflicted with blinding eye diseases.



Research interests center on the fundamental physiologic mechanisms of neurologic diseases affecting the visual system, and on the role that central nervous system (CNS) plasticity may play in both the pathogenesis and potential treatments for such disorders. Ongoing investigations aim to better understand electrophysiologic changes that occur in hereditary retinal degeneration, the most common inherited cause of blindness, and also a central feature of many neurodegenerative disorders in children and adults, including those that cause severe mental retardation, motor disability, and seizures. Currently proposed therapies for these disorders hinge upon the assumption that even after photoreceptor degeneration, remaining retinal neurons would be able to normally process signals from rescued or replaced photoreceptors, or from direct electrical stimulation. In fact, significant anatomic reorganization of the inner retina occurs, and recent work in the Stasheff laboratory has identified corresponding physiologic changes that may involve mechanisms of developmental plasticity.

Current studies are funded in part by a Scientific Award from the Child Neurology Foundation (CNF) and by a grant from the Knights Templar Foundation.


Our Vision Research Network

Dr.Stewart Thompson
Studies on non-image forming aspects of the visual system, such as regulation of physiology and behavior according to ambient light levels. Special emphasis on intrinsically photosensitive (melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs).

Dr. Michael Abramoff
Computerized analysis of images and neural encoding of image features in the visual system, including alterations in that encoding retinal degenerative diseases.

Dr. Eduardo Fernandez
Development of a cortical visual neuroprosthesis for the blind. Emphasis on changes in the neural code of vision in retinal degenerative diseases.

The Institute for Vision Research (IVR) at the University of Iowa
Newly-formed institute encompassing a number of vision research programs exploring the genetic, molecular & cell biology, electrophysiology, and behavioral aspects of eye diseases, including cutting-edge potential treatments for these disorders. The Stasheff laboratory is an active member with frequent interactions and ongoing collaborations with several IVR research laboratories.

University of Iowa Eye Interest group
A group of University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty with an interest in the various aspects of vision research, meeting regularly and sponsoring the Midwest Eye Research Symposium (MERS) each summer..

The Boston Retinal Implant Project
A multidisciplinary research and development group with the specific goal of developing an implantable microelectronic prosthesis to restore vision to patients with certain forms of retinal blindness. 

The Neuroscience Program at the University of Iowa
A leading center for study of the nervous system and behavior, and for the training of Graduate students in this area.

Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa
Interdisciplinary department within the College of Engineering that fosters collaborative research and teaching across departments and colleges. Students from the Department participate in several projects exploring the nature of retinal circuits, their encoding of visual information, and alterations in these that result from degenerative diseases.

The Carver Family Center for Macular Degeneration at The University of Iowa
This center is dedicated to research and treatment of macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and related degenerative diseases of the eye.

The John and Marcia Carver Nonprofit Genetic Testing Laboratory
This laboratory provides genetic testing for rare eye diseases.