Primary appointment - Ophthalmology
Other appointments - Pharmacology, Biochemistry
Dr. Park’s research focuses on the biology of photoreceptor cells and structure-function studies of rhodopsin and other G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) using cutting-edge biochemical, biophysical and genetic technologies. One of the major focuses of the laboratory is on answering long-standing fundamental questions about the structure and function of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is the dim light receptor in rod photoreceptor cells of the retina that initiates vision upon photon capture. Mutations in the rhodopsin gene account for about 15% of all retinal degenerative disease. Mutations in rhodopsin can lead to retinitis pigmentosa and congenital stationary night blindness. Retinitis pigmentosa is the most common inherited retinal degenerative disease and affects about 1.5 million people worldwide. More than 100 point mutations have been discovered in the rhodopsin gene that is associated with night blindness or vision loss. The mechanistic basis for how rhodopsin causes these diseased states is currently unclear. Research in the laboratory will help us better understand the mechanistic basis of mutations in rhodopsin that cause inherited vision disorders and thereby provide critical insights for the discovery and implementation of targeted therapeutic strategies to combat these types of disorders.