Linda McLoon

Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences


Dr. McLoon received her PhD from the Department of Anatomy at the University of Illinois Medical Center, followed by postdoctoral studies with Dr. Ray Lund at the University of Washington and Medical University of South Carolina. She is a tenured Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences. She studies pharmacologic approaches to the treatment of eye movement disorders in children, specifically strabismus and nystagmus. She is focused on the cell biology and muscle stem cell populations within the muscles that move the eyes in the orbit, the extraocular muscles, to understand their sparing in diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and what goes awry in eye movement disorders. Recently she has added an interest in sex differences in retinal function and how this relates to neuropsychiatric disease.

Strabismus, nystagmus, muscle stem cells, muscle injury, muscle regeneration, craniofacial muscles, neurotrophic factors

Research Summary

My laboratory focuses on understanding the potential mechanisms for two types of eye movement disorders: strabismus and nystagmus. Untreated these result in decreased visual acuity. Both involve the ocular motor system and the specialized skeletal muscles that move the eye, the extraocular muscles (EOM). We focus on the ability of retrogradely transported neurotrophic factors to alter the function and structure of the ocular motor system with the goal of developing a permanent therapeutic approach for these movement disorders. We have used RNAseq data to identify potential new therapeutic targets for development of treatments.

A second focus is the study of the muscle stem cell populations in the EOM that cause their differential sparing in degenerative disorders such as muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We have identified a specific stem cell, expressing Pitx2, which we have implicated in this differential sparing. Further work will focus on using these stem cells to prevent limb muscle degeneration in these currently untreatable diseases.

Finally, we have started a new project looking at the electroretinogram (ERG) in various mouse models of disease. Our recent studies show a significant difference in ERG characteristics in a mouse model of schizophrenia compared to controls, suggesting a specific method by which differences in the brain can be measured in the retina.

Research interests:
Development of pharmacologic treatments for strabismus and infantile nystagmus syndrome
Extraocular muscle cell biology
Sparing of the extraocular muscles in muscular dystrophies
Molecular control of extraocular muscle properties and how these are affected in strabismus and nystagmus
Sex differences in the electroretinogram

Teaching Summary

NSC 5203 Neuroscience of Vision
NSC 8321 Career Skills for Neuroscientists




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