Rebecca E. Whiting, PhD

University of Missouri – Columbia (MU)

My research goals focus on the development of therapeutic approaches to treat vision loss due to diseases affecting the retina and/or central neural pathways involved in the visual process. I use objective, non-invasive measures of visual function in animal models of neurodegenerative disease and as a measure of efficacy for treatment approaches to prevent or reverse vision loss. Currently, I am working with a Dachshund model of the CLN2 form of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, a fatal lysosomal storage disorder with early childhood onset. Dachshunds develop symptoms similar to those found in children, including vision loss, cognitive and motor decline, and seizures. In addition to other measures of disease progression, quantitative evaluation of the pupillary light reflex, electroretinography (ERG), and in-vivo optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging of the retina allow us to determine if a given treatment is capable of preventing deficits that we have previously documented in untreated dogs.