Paul A. Yates


  • BS, California Polytechnic State University
  • MD, University of California, San Diego
  • PhD, University of California, San Diego

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology


Research Interest(s)

Development and regulation of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and blood vessels as they relate to retinal diseases.

Research Description

Our laboratory conducts basic and translational research into the development and regulation of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and blood vessels as they relate to retinal diseases including retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. We are interested in the growth, branching and arbor remodeling of RGC neurons, which connect the eye to the brain. What starts as a disorganized set of connections from RGCs to their target, the superior colliculus, reorganizes over the course of development into a highly specific two dimensional retinotopic map that recapitulates the two dimensional spatial arrangement of the RGCs in the retina. Ongoing projects are studying how Ephrin-A dependent RGC axon-axon inhibition plays a role in determining arbor location and size within the map, how competition for space determines initial and final branching patterns on the axon, and the role of axonal degeneration through the DR6 receptor and cell death in shaping the final map. Our hope is that understanding how topographic patterning of retinal axons occurs will one day permit successful eye transplantation.

Aberrant growth of blood vessels leads to many eye diseases such as retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. We are interested in creating new approaches for treatment of these blinding diseases through projects that investigate stem cell therapies for repairing damaged blood vessels and creating novel light activated drugs to focally treat retinal vasculopathies. Basic research in the lab is also examining potential similarities in the mechanisms and molecules that control vascular and axonal branching by determining the role of Ephrins and VEGF in blood vessel growth at the level of the capillary sprout within the retinal micro-vascular network.

Selected Publications

  • Cronk S, Kelly-Goss M, Ray H, Mendel T, Hoehn K, Bruce A, Dey B, Guendel A, Tavakol D, Herman I, Peirce S, Yates P. Adipose-derived stem cells from diabetic mice show impaired vascular stabilization in a murine model of diabetic retinopathy. Stem cells translational medicine. 2015;4(5): 459-67. PMID: 25769654 | PMCID: PMC4414213
  • Mendel T, Clabough E, Kao D, Demidova-Rice T, Durham J, Zotter B, Seaman S, Cronk S, Rakoczy E, Katz A, Herman I, Peirce S, Yates P. Pericytes derived from adipose-derived stem cells protect against retinal vasculopathy. PloS one. 2013;8(5): e65691. PMID: 23741506 | PMCID: PMC3669216
  • Taylor A, Mendel T, Mason K, Degen K, Yates P, Peirce S. Attenuation of ephrinB2 reverse signaling decreases vascularized area and preretinal vascular tuft formation in the murine model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2012;53(9): 5462-70. PMID: 22789927 | PMCID: PMC3948501
  • Tran K, Mendel T, Holbrook K, Yates P. Construction of an inexpensive, hand-held fundus camera through modification of a consumer "point-and-shoot" camera. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2012;53(12): 7600-7. PMID: 23049089 | PMCID: PMC3495602
  • Taylor A, Seltz L, Yates P, Peirce S. Chronic whole-body hypoxia induces intussusceptive angiogenesis and microvascular remodeling in the mouse retina. Microvascular research. 2010;79(2): 93-101. PMID: 20080108 | PMCID: PMC2828864
  • Yamamoto I, Rogers A, Reichel E, Yates P, Duker J. Intravitreal bevacizumab (Avastin) as treatment for subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation secondary to pathological myopia. The British journal of ophthalmology. 2006;91(2): 157-60. PMID: 16870653 | PMCID: PMC1857635
  • Yates P, Holub A, McLaughlin T, Sejnowski T, O'Leary D. Computational modeling of retinotopic map development to define contributions of EphA-ephrinA gradients, axon-axon interactions, and patterned activity. Journal of neurobiology. 2004;59(1): 95-113. PMID: 15007830 | PMCID: PMC2927824
  • McLaughlin T, Hindges R, Yates P, O'Leary D. Bifunctional action of ephrin-B1 as a repellent and attractant to control bidirectional branch extension in dorsal-ventral retinotopic mapping. Development (Cambridge, England). 2003;130(11): 2407-18. PMID: 12702655
  • Erkman L, Yates P, McLaughlin T, McEvilly R, Whisenhunt T, O'Connell S, Krones A, Kirby M, Rapaport D, Bermingham J, O'Leary D, Rosenfeld M. A POU domain transcription factor-dependent program regulates axon pathfinding in the vertebrate visual system. Neuron. 2001;28(3): 779-92. PMID: 11163266
  • Yates P, Roskies A, McLaughlin T, O'Leary D. Topographic-specific axon branching controlled by ephrin-As is the critical event in retinotectal map development. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2001;21(21): 8548-63. PMID: 11606643
  • Brown A, Yates P, Burrola P, Ortuño D, Vaidya A, Jessell T, Pfaff S, O'Leary D, Lemke G. Topographic mapping from the retina to the midbrain is controlled by relative but not absolute levels of EphA receptor signaling. Cell. 2000;102(1): 77-88. PMID: 10929715