Faculty Profile

Michael H. Do, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Associate Professor of Neurology, F. M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Children's Hospital Boston

See publications


Center for Life Sciences 12061
3 Blackfan Circle
Boston, MA 02115

Email michael.do@childrens.harvard.edu

Research Interests

Broadly stated, our goal is to learn how external signals interact with internal states to generate appropriate action. We take a biophysical approach to neural circuits and conduct our investigations within a conceptual framework established by behavioral experiments. In this manner, we develop a precise understanding of the steps by which system function emerges from its components.

Our principal method is patch-clamp electrophysiology, applied to specific cell types in tissues isolated from model organisms. We also employ approaches from optics, molecular genetics, anatomy, and behavior.

We study two pathways in the mammalian visual system, from their origin in the retina to their influences downstream. One pathway regulates fundamental aspects of physiology such as the circadian clock, sleep, and hormone levels. It tends to sum photons over broad intervals of time and space for accurate measurement of the overall light level. By contrast, the second pathway initiates most of our conscious visual experience. It parses images with exceptional speed and acuity to produce a detailed representation of the world. We analyze these two visual pathways in parallel to learn how a common signal, light, is diversified by neural circuits to serve a varied palette of behavioral needs.


Alan J. Emanuel, B.S. 2011-present
E.S. Milner, B.S. 2012-present
Andreas Liu, PhD, 2012-present
Gregory S. Bryman, B.S. 2013-present


Bruce P. Bean, Ph.D. (Ph.D. advisor)
King-Wai Yau, Ph.D. (postdoctoral advisor)

Research Funding

The Karl Kirchgessner Foundation, PI: Michael Do
Distinct Channels in the Melanopsin Visual Pathway of Rodents

NIH/NEI, PI: Michael Do
Properties and Mechanisms of Melanopsin Photoreception

BrightFocus Foundation, PI: Michael Do
Mechanisms of Signaling in the Fovea
Whitehall Foundation, PI: Michael Do
Regulation of Physiology and Behavior by Light

March of Dimes, PI: Michael Do
Early Visual Signals and Neural Development

Knights Templar Eye Foundation, PI: Michael Do
Photoreception in the Womb for Normal Eye Development


Cellular Neurophysiology
Neurophysiology of Central Circuits

Selected Publications

Do MT, Yau KW. Adaptation to steady light by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 30;110(18):7470-5. [PMID: 23589882]

Xue T, Do MT, Riccio A, Jiang Z, Hsieh J, Wang HC, Merbs SL, Welsbie DS, Yoshioka T, Weissgerber P, Stolz S, Flockerzi V, Freichel M, Simon MI, Clapham DE, Yau KW. Melanopsin signalling in mammalian iris and retina.
Nature. 2011 Nov  2;479(7371):67-73. [PMID: 22051675].

Müller LP, Do MT, Yau KW, He S, Baldridge WH. Tracer coupling of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells to amacrine cells in the mouse retina.
J Comp Neurol. 2010 Dec 1;518(23):4813-24. [PMID: 20963830]

Do MT, Bean BP. Sodium currents in subthalamic nucleus neurons from Nav1.6-null mice.
J Neurophysiol. 2004 Aug;92(2):726-33. Epub 2004 Mar 31. [PMID: 15056687]

Do MT, Bean BP. Subthreshold sodium currents and pacemaking of subthalamic neurons: modulation by slow inactivation.
Neuron. 2003 Jul 3;39(1):109-20. [PMID: 12848936]

Coopman PJ, Do MT, Barth M, Bowden ET, Hayes AJ, Basyuk E, Blancato JK, Vezza  PR, McLeskey SW, Mangeat PH, Mueller SC. The Syk tyrosine kinase suppresses malignant growth of human breast cancer cells.
Nature. 2000 Aug 17;406(6797):742-7. [PMID: 10963601]

Coopman PJ, Do MT, Thompson EW, Mueller SC. Phagocytosis of cross-linked gelatin matrix by human breast carcinoma cells correlates with their invasive capacity.
Clin Cancer Res. 1998 Feb;4(2):507-15. [PMID: 9516943]

Review articles
Sand A, Schmidt TM, Kofuji P. Diverse types of ganglion cell photoreceptors in
the mammalian retina.
Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012 Jul;31(4):287-302. Review. [PMID: 22480975]

Schmidt TM, Do MT, Dacey D, Lucas R, Hattar S, Matynia A. Melanopsin-positive
intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells: from form to function.
J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 9;31(45):16094-101. Review. [PMID: 22072661]

Do MT, Yau KW. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells.
Physiol Rev. 2010 Oct;90(4):1547-81. Review. [PMID: 20959623]

Fu Y, Liao HW, Do MT, Yau KW. Non-image-forming ocular photoreception in
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Aug;15(4):415-22. Review. [PMID: 16023851]

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