Job ID: 60111

Dissecting the mammalian image-stabilization system

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 1 November 2021

Employment Start Date: 1 November 2021

Contract Length: Funding is available for four years and can be extended, if necessary.

City: Jerusalem

Country: Israel

Institution: Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ein Kerem

Department: Department of Medical Neurobiology


A central challenge of the brain is to stabilize the image of the outside world on the retina to allow the detection of meaningful visual information. Image stabilization is accomplished by the generation of eye movements that counteract the motion of the retinal image (optic flow). One of the oculomotor reflexes that shape image-stabilizing eye movements is the optokinetic nystagmus, which is driven by visual signals arriving from ON direction selective ganglion cells (oDSGCs) in the retina. oDSGCs project differentially to nuclei of the accessory optic system (AOS), which plays a crucial role in the calculation of optimal image-stabilizing eye movements. In some ways, the accessory optic system should have arguably be called the primary optic system because it is more evolutionary ancient than the retino-thalamo-visual cortical pathway, and without image stabilization, the elaborated processing carried out in the retina and visual thalamus and cortex would have become almost pointless. This project will (1) explore the developmental and mechanistic basis of retinal direction-selectivity, and (2) reveal how signals from oDSGCs are integrated and processed within the AOS to ensure the calculation of optimal compensatory eye movements. We combine slice and retinal electrophysiology, serial electron microscopy, and global optic flow stimulation while in vivo recording from the AOS in the awake head-restrained mouse during eye movement tracking. These will be complemented with the utilization of an array of genetically modified mouse models and genetically-targeted neuronal manipulations.

Successful candidates will show solid communication skills in English, ability to work both independently and as part of a research team, strong scientific motivation, proved experience in Matlab or python programming. Experience in electrophysiology or optogenetics would be an advantage.

An application package, including a motivation letter, curriculum vitae, and a list of publications, should be sent to Dr. Shai Sabbah (