17 August 2010

Reverse-engineering Drosophila's retinal networks

Professors Daniel Coca and Steve Billings from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE) and Professor Mikko Juusola from the Department of Biomedical Science have been awarded a £399k research grant from BBSRC. The project will lead to an increased understanding of the visual system of invertebrates.

The project aims to identify and characterize quantitatively, within a control and systems engineering framework, the regulatory mechanisms that underpin the robust operation of retinal circuits, the 'tuning' strategies by which these adapt to changes in their visual environment and the information theoretic goals that govern network adaptation.

In order to accomplish these aims, the team will develop a detailed biophysical model of the R-LMC-R visual processing module in Drosophila, using a data-driven reverse-engineering approach that they pioneered, which combines nonlinear system identification and frequency response techniques with conventional reductionist methods rooted in molecular biology.