Peter R. MacLeish, Ph.D.

Peter R. MacLeish, Ph.D. 



Location: Multidisciplinary Research Center F-22614
Phone: 404-756-5786


Harvard Medical School
Postdoctoral Training: Neurobiology

Harvard University
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy 

University of Western Ontario
Degree: Bachelor of Engineering Science (Electrical)

Research Interests

One component of my work focuses on the functional properties of mature neurons from the salamander and primate retina. These are neurons that have completed their neuroanatomical differentiation in the animal. The general approach is to isolate cells following enzymatic treatment of tissue and to use the characteristic morphology of cells to identify them. Our main experimental approaches are electrophysiology and optical imaging. We have studied phototransduction, synapse formation among the classes of retinal cells and the ionic conductances and their compartmentalization in identified cells. To improve the poor adhesion of mature neurons to conventional substrates, we have immobilized select antibodies that target cell surface antigens to coverslips to promote cell adhesion.

A second component focuses on the ability of adult newts to regenerate a new retina from retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Enucleation of an eye followed by re-implantation leads to retinal degeneration and to the generation of a new retina through a series of steps involving RPE cells. The steps include the depigmentation of the RPE cells followed by proliferation and differentiation of RPE-derived cells into an intact and functional retina. Our aim is to determine the conditions that support retinal regeneration in vitro to help identify the cellular and molecular events that control the retinal regenerative process.


  • Klein L.R., MacLeish P.R. and Wiesel, T.N. Immunolabelling by a newt retinal pigment epithelium antibody during retinal development and regeneration. J. Comp. Neurol. 293: 331-339, 1990.
  • Yagi T. and MacLeish, P. R. Ionic conductances of monkey solitary cone inner segments. J. Neurophysiol., 71: 656-665, 1994.
  • MacLeish, P.R. and Nurse, C.A. Ion channel compartments in photoreceptors: Evidence from salamander rods with intact and ablated terminals. J. Neurophysiology 98: 86-95, 2007.
  • O’Brien, J.J., Chen, X., MacLeish, P.R., O’Brien, J. and Massey, S.C.  Photoreceptor Coupling Mediated by Connexin 36 in the Primate Retina. J. Neuroscience 32:4675-4687, 2012.
  • Jorgenson, L.A., Newsome, W.T., Anderson, D.J., Bargmann, C.I., Brown, E.N., Deisseroth, K., Donoghue, J.P., Hudson, K.L., Ling, G.S.F., MacLeish, P.R., Marder, E., Normann, R.A., Sanes, J.R., Schnitzer, M.J., Sejnowski, T.J., Tank, D.W., Tsien, R.Y., Ugurbil, K., Wingfield, J.C. The BRAIN Initiative: developing technology to catalyse neuroscience research. Phil. Trans.  R. Soc. B 370: 20140164, 2015.

Honors and Awards

  • Member, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
  • Member, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
  • Member, NIH BRAIN Working Group