Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences
423 Dodge Hall
(248) 370-2399



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 the Eye Research Institute in 2010, he served as Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Zhang has received a fellowship from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and Alcon Laboratories, as well as research awards from the National Eye Institute and the Midwest Eye-Banks. 




Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on understanding the regulation of dopamine release in the vertebrate retina, a simple and accessible model of the CNS. Retinal dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter and plays vital roles in modulating retinal circuits, synchronizing the retinal clock, and influencing eye growth. As a result, dopamine deficiency in neurodegenerative diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, and Parkinson’s disease leads to a number of visual defects affecting the spatial and temporal vision, as well as absolute visual sensitivity. However, the mechanisms responsible for regulating dopamine release are not well understood. The broad objective of Dr. Zhang’s laboratory is to determine how retinal dopaminergic neuron activity is regulated by environmental light and the circadian biological clock, and how it is altered in a mouse model of retinopathy of prematurity. With further understanding of these mechanisms, we will be able to better comprehend the underlying problems of these diseases and develop an effective treatment for them. Dr. Zhang’s laboratory utilizes a multidisciplinary approach that includes molecular, pharmacological, biochemical, optical imaging, and electrophysiological techniques. The research is currently supported by the National Eye Institute (R01EY022640).


Selected Publications


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:xxx-xxx (*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.


Updated 9/7/2017