Andrew Lowe has been successful in obtaining one of the Wellcome Trust’s new research seed awards to develop a novel integrative approach that will reveal how visual information is organised in the zebrafish.
Seed Awards, part of the Wellcome Trust’s new research funding framework, provide responsive, flexible funding intended to enable researchers to develop novel ideas to a position where they would then be competitive for a larger award from the Wellcome Trust or some other source. In this first edition of the Wellcome Trust Seed Awards, approximately 10% of all applications were funded.
The successful application proposes a systems-based approach that aims to efficiently map how retinal ganglion cells innervate and organise within the optic tectum of the zebrafish. Topographic order, wherein neighbours in the retina are neighbours in central targets, represents a first-order organisational principle of visual information within the brain. Intriguingly, local variations in topography observed in different species suggest second-order regional specialisations may solve specific ethological demands. To understand the computational advantages of local visual processing it will be important to map how individual functional types of retinal ganglion cells across the entire retina are mapped within the brain. The award will fund cutting-edge research that promises to fill this knowledge gap. It will enable a categorical demonstration of the power and potential of population approaches to map the functional topography of biological vision.