Gabriel’s PhD studies have revolved around studying photoreceptor physiology with non-invasive methods. He investigates how properties intrinsic to cone opsin molecules might enable cone photoreceptors to function under bright light illumination conditions. He also studies how extracellular currents from retinal cells give rise to the electrical signals that comprise the electroretinogram (ERG), and utilizes these electrical signals to study homeostatic mechanisms for K+ regulation in the subretinal space.
The development of non-invasive methods to study the interplay between photoreceptors and other cell types is an important step toward elucidating mechanisms that can only function in the intact retina. The Burns & Pugh lab aim to implement insights previously gained from classic experiments performed ex vivo to study some of the physiological mechanisms that maintain the health and function of the retina in the living animal.
Prior to joining the Burns & Pugh lab, Gabriel studied how sensory cues guide the formation of fruiting bodies in Myxobacteria sp. with Prof. Catalina Arevalo Ferro at UNAL (2010-2011), the electrophysiological properties of CLC channels of Leishmania amazonensis with Prof. Marcela Camacho at UNAL (2011-2013), and the photortransduction cascade of scalop and lancelet photoreceptors with Profs. Enrico Nasi and Pilar Gomez at the Marine Biological Laboratory of Woods Hole. He has received numerous awards and honors during his PhD studies, including best poster presentation at Bay Area Research Vision Day (2016), UC Davis & Humanities graduate research award (2015 – 2016), Miguel Velez Fellowship (2015), Internal Fellowship, Neuroscience graduate program (2017).