Schmidt, Tiffany, PhD



Schmidt, Tiffany, PhD


Assistant Professor


Office Phone





Pancoe 1-121


Areas of Research

Biological Rhythms, Cell Biology, Circuits and Behavior, Development, Electrophysiology, Molecular Neuroscience, Sensory Systems, Signal Transduction

NU Scholar Profile

Current Research

Current Research

Light is an important and ever present regulator of physiology and behavior, and is involved in processes as wide ranging as daily hormonal oscillations, pattern vision, sleep, attention, and circadian photoentrainment. But how are light signals relayed to the brain to mediate these complex visual behaviors? In mammals, all light information reaches the brain via projections from the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), of which there are ~20 subtypes in the retina. Therefore, to understand how light regulates behavior, we must understand: 1) How do RGC subtypes respond to different light stimuli? 2) What are the specific cellular targets of individual RGC subtypes in the brain? and 3) What are the functional contributions of RGC subtypes to defined visual behaviors?

We study these questions by looking at the role of RGC subtypes in specific visual functions. For example, the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which express the photopigment melanopsin, comprise five subtypes that drive a wide range of behaviors from circadian photoentrainment to contrast sensitivity for vision. The defined and quantitative behaviors in which these cells are involved, and the myriad available genetic tools for study of this system make it an ideal one in which to study the circuitry and role of ganglion cells in visual behavior. We do this using a range of techniques from electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, and behavioral approaches in various genetic mouse models.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Schmidt TM, Alam NM, Chen S, Kofuji P, Li W, Prusky GT, Hattar S (2014) Role for melanopsin in alpha retinal ganglion cells and contrast detection. Neuron 82(4): 781-788.

Chew KS, Schmidt TM, Rupp AC, Tremarchi JM (2014) Loss of Gq/11 genes does not abolish melanopsin phototransduction. PLoSOne 28;9(5): e98356.

Sand AM, Schmidt TM, Kofuji P (2012) Diverse types of ganglion cell photoreceptors in the mammalian retina. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research 31(4): 287-302.

Schmidt TM and Kofuji P (2011) Structure and function of bistratified intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in the mouse. J Comp Neurol 519(8): 1492-1504.

Schmidt TM, Chen S-K, Hattar S (2011) Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells: many subtypes, diverse functions. Trends Neurosci 34 (11): 572-580.

Perez-Leighton CE*, Schmidt TM*, Abramovitz J, Birnbaumer L, Kofuji P (2011) Intrinsic phototransduction persists in melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells lacking diacylglycerol-sensitive TRPC channel subunits. Eur J Neurosci 33(5):856-867.

Schmidt TM and Kofuji P (2011) An isolated retinal preparation to record light responses from genetically labeled retinal ganglion cells. J Vis Exp 47.

Schmidt TM, Do MT, Dacey DM, Lucas R, Hattar S, Matynia A (2011) Melanopsin-positive intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells: from form to function. J Neurosci 31(45): 16094-101.

Schmidt TM and Kofuji P (2010) Differential cone pathway influence on intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell subtypes. J Neurosci 30 (48): 16262-16271.

Tang X, Schmidt TM, Perez-Leighton CE, Kofuji P (2010) Inwardly rectifying potassium channel Kir4.1 is responsible for the native inward potassium conductance of satellite glia cells in sensory ganglia. Neuroscience 166(2): 397-407.

Schmidt TM and Kofuji P (2009) Functional and morphological differences among intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. J Neurosci 29(2): 476-482.

Bishop DI, Meyer BC, Schmidt TM, and Gray BR (2009) Differential investment behavior between grandparents and grandchildren: the role of paternity uncertainty. Evolutionary Psychology 7(1): 66-77.

Schmidt TM, Taniguchi K, and Kofuji P (2008) Intrinsic and extrinsic light responses in melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells during mouse development. J Neurophysiol 100:371-384.