Expand the section navigation mobile menu

Eye Research Institute

Dodge Hall
118 Library Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4479
(location map)

Eye Research Institute

Dodge Hall
118 Library Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4479
(location map)

Dao-Qi Zhang

Headshot of Dao-Qi Zhang

Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences
423 Dodge Hall
(248) 370-2399
[email protected] 

Dr. Dao-Qi Zhang received his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the Institute of Physiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1997. He completed his post-doctoral training within the Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky. Before he joined Oakland University, Dr. Zhang served as Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Zhang was a tenure-track Assistant Professor from 2010 to 2017 at the Eye Research Institute. Since 2017, he has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Zhang has been also appointed as Adjunct Associate Professor at the Functional Medical Studies in Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine since 2022.

Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that can influence cognition, emotion, and movement in the central nervous system. In the visual system, dopamine plays a vital role in modulating retinal circuits, synchronizing the retinal clock, and influencing eye growth. As a result, dopamine deficiency leads to defects in the spatial and temporal vision in diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, and Parkinson’s disease. Dopamine deficiency is also associated with the development of myopia, a common cause of visual disability throughout the world. The sole source of retinal dopamine is a specialized subtype of amacrine interneurons called dopaminergic amacrine cells. The broad objective of Dr. Zhang’s laboratory is to determine how dopamine release from dopaminergic amacrine cells is regulated before and after visual experience and how the regulation of the dopamine release is altered during eye disorders. Specifically, they determine how spontaneous retinal activity occurring prior to eye opening, termed “retinal waves”, drives dopaminergic amacrine cells, influencing ocular growth. They also define the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which outer retinal photoreceptors (rods and cones) and inner retinal photoreceptors (melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells) each excite dopaminergic amacrine cells contributing to visual information processing. Furthermore, they access the impairment of visual signaling pathways following oxygen-induced retinopathy, the most widely used model for retinopathy of prematurity and human ischemic retinopathies, and its impact on the development of myopia. The broader impact of the work will enable the rational discovery of new preventive, therapeutic interventions to combat eye disorders. Additional information is available on the Zhang Laboratory webpage.

National Eye Institute
Mid-West Eyebanks
Research Excellence Fund (Oakland University)

Selected Publications
Yan R.-S, Yang X.-L., Zhong R.-M*. and Zhang D.-Q.* (2020) Spontaneous depolarization-induced  action potentials of ON-starburst amacrine cells during cholinergic and glutamatergic retinal Waves. Cells, 9(12):2574. (*co-corresponding author).

Liu L.-L, Spix N.J. and Zhang D.-Q . (2017) NMDA receptors contribute to retrograde synaptic transmission from ganglion cell photoreceptors to dopaminergic amacrine cells. Frontier in Cellular Neuroscience 11:279 (1-13).

Qiao S.-N., Zhou W., Liu L.-L. Zhang D.-Q. * and Zhong Y.-M.* (2017) Orexin-A suppresses signal transmission to dopaminergic amacrine cells from outer and inner retinal photoreceptors. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 58(11):4712-4721 (*co-corresponding author).

Zhao X., Wong K.Y. and Zhang D.-Q. (2017) Mapping physiological inputs from multiple photoreceptor systems to dopaminergic amacrine cells in the mouse retina. Scientific Reports 7:7920 (1-14).

Prigge C.L., Yeh P.T., Liou N.F., Lee C.C., You S.F., Liu L.-L., McNeill D.S, Chew K.S., Hattar S., Chen S.K.* and  Zhang D.-Q .* (2016) M1 ipRGCs influence visual function through retrograde signaling in the retina.  The Journal of Neuroscience 36:7184-97. (*co-corresponding author).

Qiao S.-N., Zhang Z, Ribelayga C.P., Zhong Y.-M.* and  Zhang D.-Q.* (2016) Multiple cone pathways are involved in photic regulation of retinal dopamine.  Scientific Reports 6:28916 (1-13). (*co-corresponding author).

Spix N.J., Liu L.-L., Zhang Z, Hohlbein J.P., Prigge C.Z., Chintala S, Ribelayga C.P., and  Zhang D.-Q .  (2016) Vulnerability of dopaminergic amacrine cells to chronic ischemia in a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy.  Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 57:3047-57.

Zhang D.-Q ., Wong K.Y., Berson D.M., Sollers P.J., Pickard G.E. and McMahon D.G. (2008) Intraretinal signaling by ganglion cell photoreceptors to dopaminergic amacrine neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 105:14181-14186.

Zhang D.-Q., Zhou T.-R. and McMahon D.G. (2007) Functional heterogeneity of retinal dopaminergic neurons underlying their multiple roles in vision. Journal of Neuroscience 27:692-699.

Zhang D.-Q. and McMahon D.G. (2000) Direct gating by retinoic acid of retinal electrical synapses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 97:14754-14759.