Marie Burns, Ph.D.

Headshot of Marie Burns, PhD

Position Title

Ophthalmology and Vision Science; Cell Biology and Human Anatomy


Photoreceptor signaling and Retinal Physiology; Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration

Research Summary

The first steps in vision begin in the photoreceptors of the retina, which transduce photons of light into electrical signals. Our lab examines the biochemical and biophysical properties of signaling in photoreceptors, as well as the consequences of defective signaling on visual performance.

We are also trying to understand why and how photoreceptors die, which is the ultimate leading cause of blindness in humans.  Photoreceptor degeneration, like all neurodegenerative diseases, leads to microglial activation and neuroinflammation.   We are trying to understand the regulation of neuroinflammation, its relationship to neovascularization, and its helpful vs harmful consequences for perserving neuronal and synaptic function.

Select Publications

Zawadzki, R.J., Zhang, P., Zam, A., Miller, E.B., Goswami, M., Wang, X., Jonnal, R.S., Lee, S-H., Kim, D.Y., Flannery, J.G., Werner, J.S., Burns, M.E., Pugh, E.N.  (2015).  Adaptive-optics SLO imaging combined with widefield OCT and SLO enables precise 3D localization of fluorescent cells in the mouse retina. Biomedical Optics Express. 6, 2191-210. 

Gross, O.P., Pugh, E.N., Jr., and Burns, M.E. (2015).  cGMP in mouse rods:  the spatiotemporal dynamics underlying single photon responses.  Front Mol Neurosci, 8, 6. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2015.00006. eCollection 2015.

Fortenbach, C.F. Peinado, G., Kessler, C. and Burns, M.E. (2015). Speeding rod recovery improves temporal resolution in the retina.  Vision Res, 110, 57-67.

Levine, E.S., Zam, A., Zhang, P., Pechko, A., Wang, X., FitzGerald, P., Pugh, Jr., E.N., Zawadzki, R. and Burns, M.E.  (2014). Rapid light-induced migration of retinal microglia in mice lacking Arrestin-1.  Vision Res., 102, 71-9.

Kessler, C., Tillman, M., Burns, M.E., and Pugh, E.N., Jr. (2014). Rapid regeneration of rod photoreceptor surface rhodopsin measured with the early receptor potential in vivo.   J. Physiol. 592, 2785-97.

Arshavsky, V.Y., and Burns, M.E. (2014). Current understanding of signal amplification in phototransduction. Cellular Logistics 4, e29390;

Long, J.H., Arshavsky, V.Y. and Burns, M.E.  (2013). Absence of synaptic regulation by phosducin in retinal slices. Plos One 8, e83970.

Gross, O.P., Pugh, Jr. E.N. and Burns, M.E. (2012). Calcium feedback to cGMP synthesis strongly attenuates single- photon responses driven by long rhodopsin lifetimes. Neuron 76, 370-382.

Gross, O.P., Pugh, Jr. E.N. and Burns, M.E. (2012). Spatiotemporal cGMP dynamics in living mouse rods. Biophys. J. 102, 1775-1784.

Burns, M.E. and Pugh, Jr. E.N. (2010). Lessons from photoreceptors: Turning off G protein signaling in living cells. Physiology 25, 72-84. 

Arshavsky, V.I. and Burns, M.E. (2011). Photoreceptor signaling: supporting vision across a wide range of light intensities. J. Biol. Chem. 287, 1620-6.


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Graduate Group in Immunology