Alex Straiker, PhD

Indiana University

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Indiana University


Exogenous cannabinoids are best known as drugs of abuse, though with growing acceptance. Cannabinoids have a role in human history dating back thousands of years, but only recently have we begun to learn how cannabinoids actually work in the body. This is particularly the case for the eye. My graduate work began with basic research into cannabinoid signaling in the eye, offering the first evidence for a functional CB1-based cannabinoid signaling system in the vertebrate eye, including receptors, ligands and two electrophysiological studies of cannabinoid signaling in photoreceptors and bipolar cells. Since then the central theme of my research has been the characterization of cannabinoid signaling, working with a neuronal model that we have exploited to dissect the surprisingly complex and diverse machinery of cannabinoid signaling. Lately we have shifted our focus more toward things ocular, exploring the functional anatomy of cannabinoid signaling in several eye structures, with implications for retinal function, glaucoma and corneal wound healing.