Pioneering Rehabilitation

Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.

Director, Laboratory for Cellular Vision and Plasticity

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience
Brain and Mind Research Institute
Weill Cornell Medicine


(914) 368-3167

Research Focus

The research in my laboratory focuses on sensory signal processing, particularly on how fundamental yet simple synaptic mechanisms underlie our perception of the world around us. The functioning of the sensory systems is mediated by elaborate neuronal circuitry and could be dramatically altered by development, experience or during neurodegenerative diseases.  These define major research interests of my laboratory--from fundamental mechanisms to rehabilitation.

We use vertebrate retina to study synaptic interactions and translate these findings to better understand neurological pathologies and evaluate strategies to delay or repair their outcome. This part of the brain is particularly amenable to experimental analysis for several reasons. First, retina is an accessible part of the central nervous system, which can be stimulated physiologically with light.  Second, the output of the retina can be monitored with relative ease by intra- and extracellular recordings from its neurons.

Importantly, the retina is a site for several forms of severe neurodegenerative diseases that lead to vision loss and blindness; a number of mouse models that replicate human retinal degenerative diseases are available and provide necessary tools for these studies.

We probe the normal and impaired retina by making whole-cell patch recordings from morphologically identified neurons in the retinal preparation in vitro. These studies are then extended by monitoring the retinal output in living mice using recordings from single optic nerve fibers to characterize both basic properties as well as more complex interactions such as receptive field structure, response gain and adaptation. Recordings of field potentials from corneal surface (ERG) are used to evaluate retinal function noninvasively.

These studies are helping us better understand the functional plasticity of the retina, before, during and after the loss of photoreceptors and will potentially lead us to the development of successful treatment strategies.


PubMed Citations via PubMed

Ivanova E, Yee CW, Sagdullaev BT (2015) Increased phosphorylation of Cx36 gap junctions in the AII amacrine cells of RD retina. Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Oct 1;9:390. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00390. eCollection 2015.
PMID: 26483638

Ivanova E, Yee CW, Sagdullaev BT (2015) Disruption in dopaminergic innervation during photoreceptor degeneration. J Comp Neurol. 2015 Sep 10. doi: 10.1002/cne.23899. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 26356010

Ivanova E, Yee CW, Baldoni R Jr, Sagdullaev BT (2015) Aberrant activity in retinal degeneration impairs central visual processing and relies on Cx36-containing gap junctions. Exp Eye Res. 2015 May 22. pii: S0014-4835(15)00166-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.05.013. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 26005040

Yee CW, Toychiev AH, Ivanova E, Sagdullaev BT (2015) Aberrant synaptic input to retinal ganglion cells varies with morphology in a mouse model of retinal degeneration. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Dec 15;522(18):4085-99. doi: 10.1002/cne.23660. Epub 2014 Aug 18.
PMID: 25099614

Ivanova E, Toychiev AH, Yee CW, Sagdullaev BT (2014) Intersublaminar Vascular Plexus: The Correlation of Retinal Blood Vessels With Functional Sublaminae of the Inner Plexiform Layer. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55(1): 78-86.

Ivanova E, Toychiev AH, Yee CW, Sagdullaev BT (2013) Optimized protocol for retinal wholemount preparation for imaging and immunohistochemistry. JoVE (82).

Toychiev AH, Ivanova E, Yee CW, Sagdullaev BT (2013) Block of gap junctions eliminates aberrant activity and restores light responses during retinal degeneration. J. Neuroscience 33(35), 13972-13977. 

Toychiev AH, Sagdullaev B, Yee CW, Ivanova E, Sagdullaev BT (2013) A time and cost efficient approach to functional and structural assessment of living neuronal tissue. J.Neuroscience Methods, 214(1), 105-112. 

Tschetter W, Alam N, Yee CW, Douglas R, Gorz M, Sagdullaev BT, and Prusky GT (2013) Experience-enabled enhancement of adult visual cortex function.  J. Neuroscience 33(12), 5362-5366. 

Toychiev AH, Yee CW, Sagdullaev BT (2013) Correlated spontaneous activity persists in adult retina and is suppressed by inhibitory inputsPLOS One 8(10):e77658.

Yee CW, Toychiev AH, Sagdullaev BT (2012) Network deficiency
exacerbates impairment in a mouse model of retinal degeneration
Frontiers in Neuroscience 6(8), 1-14.

Sagdullaev BT, Eggers ED, Purgert R, Lukasiewicz PD (2011)
Nonlinear interactions between excitatory and inhibitory retinal
synapses control visual output
J.Neuroscience 31(42), 15102-15112.

Valley MT, Mullen TR, Schultz LC, Sagdullaev BT and Firestein S (2009) Ablation of mouse adult neurogenesis alters olfactory bulb structure and olfactory fear conditioning. Frontiers in Neurogenesis 1(3), 1-13.

Le Pichon CE, Valley MT, Polymenidou M, Chesler AT, Sagdullaev BT, Aguzzi A, Firestein S. (2009) Olfactory behavior and physiology are disrupted in prion protein knockout mice. Nature Neuroscience 12(1), 60-69.

Sagdullaev BT, Eggers ED, Ichinose T, Lukasiewicz PD. (2008) Visual signal processing in the inner retina. Ophthalmology Research V. 287-304.

Song Y, Cygnar KD, Sagdullaev BT, Valley M, Hirsh S, Stephan A, Reisert J, Zhao H. (2008) Olfactory CNG channel desensitization by Ca2+/CaM via the B1b subunit affects response termination but not sensitivity to recurring stimulation. Neuron 58(3), 374-386.

DeMarco, PJ, Yarbrough GL, Yee CW, McLean GY, Sagdullaev BT, Ball SL, McCall MA. (2007) Stimulation via a subretinally placed prosthetic elicits central activity and induces a trophic effect on visual responses. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 48(2), 916-926.

Sagdullaev BT, McCall MA, Lukasiewicz PD (2006) Presynaptic inhibition modulates spillover, creating distinct dynamic response ranges of sensory output. Neuron 50(6), 923-935.

Demas J, Sagdullaev BT, Green E, Jaubert-Miazza L, McCall MA, Gregg RG, Wong ROL and Guido W (2006) Failure to maintain eye-specific segregation in nob, a mutant with abnormally patterned retinal activity. Neuron 50(2), 247-259.

Sagdullaev BT and McCall MA. (2005) Stimulus size and intensity alter fundamental receptive field properties of mouse retinal ganglion cells in vivo. Vis Neurosci 22, 249-259.

Seiler MJ, Sagdullaev BT, Woch G, Tomas BB, Aramant RB. (2005) Transsynaptic virus tracing from host brain to subretinal transplants. Eur J Neurosci 21(1), 161-72. 

Lukasiewicz PD, Eggers ED, Sagdullaev BT, McCall MA. (2004) GABAC receptor-mediated inhibition in the retina. Vision Res 44(28), 3289-96. 

Sagdullaev BT, DeMarco PJ, McCall MA. (2004) Improved contact lens electrode for corneal ERG recordings in mice. Doc Ophthalmol 108(3), 181-4.

Sagdullaev BT, Aramant RB, Seiler MJ, McCall MA. (2003) Retinal transplantation-induced recovery of retinotectal visual function in a rodent model of retinitis pigmentosa. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 44(4), 1686-95.

Woch G, Aramant RB, Seiler MJ, Sagdullaev BT, McCall MA. (2001) Retinal transplants restore visual responses in rats with photoreceptor degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 42, 1669-1676.


Lab Members

Elena Ivanova, Ph.D. 
Instructor in Ophthalmology and Neurology

Tamas Kovacs-Oller, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Abduqodir Toychiev, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Christopher Yee
Lab Manager


National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Eye Institute (NEI)
Vascular Control in Diabetic Retinopathy
Role: Principal Investigator - Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Eye Institute (NEI)
R01 EY020535
Retinal neural processing during retinal degenerative diseases
Role: Principal Investigator - Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator - Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Eye Institute (NEI)
R01 EY026576-01
Role: Principal Investigator - Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.

International Retinal Research Foundation (IRRF)
Functional remodeling of the retinal output after photoreceptor death
Role: Principal Investigator - Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.

The Karl Kirchgessner Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator - Botir Sagdullaev, Ph.D.


ARVO Meeting. Denver, CO.

Weill Cornell Medical College. Department of Ophthalmology Grand Rounds, New York, NY

SUNY School of Optometry, New York, NY