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Jose-Manuel Alonso, MD, PhD

Jose-Manuel AlonsoJose-Manuel Alonso, MD, PhD

SUNY College of Optometry
33 West 42nd Street New York, NY 10036




Functional Circuitry of the Visual Thalamus and Cortex

My laboratory is interested in understanding how the brain processes visual information. We pursue this general goal by investigating how neurons connect to each other and the role of these connections in constructing precise representations of the visual world in the brain. Most of our work focuses on two main structures early in the visual pathway: the thalamus and the primary visual cortex. These two structures have the most detailed representation of visual space in the brain and constitute the entrance of visual information to the cerebral cortex. Disruption of the circuits from thalamus and primary visual cortex leads to cortical blindness: a lack of vision that can not be treated by restoring eye function. Disruption of thalamic and cortical circuits can result as a consequence of eye disease, neurodegenerative disorders and brain insults.

In my laboratory, we investigate the neuronal circuits of thalamus and visual cortex by using state-of-the-art technology that includes multielectrode/imaging recording from neuronal populations and computational modeling. Specific approaches are: a) study visual responses from multiple neurons under different stimulus conditions; b) identify neurons that are directly connected and study the response properties at the two poles of the connection; c) measure synchronous firing generated by different types of neurons and investigate its role in visual processing; d) study the role of populations of neurons in encoding visual information; e) study the role of alertness, visual attention and task difficulty in modulating neuronal responses; f) study changes in thalamo-cortical circuits that result from the local inactivation (or stimulation) of small groups of neurons. Our laboratory is proud to collaborate with other outstanding research teams within and outside SUNY Optometry. Two of our most productive, current collaborations are with Prof. Swadlow at the University of Connecticut, Department of Psychology and with Prof. Stanley at Georgia Tech and Emory University, Department of Biomedical Engineering.

A better understanding of how neural circuits process visual information is essential to develop new strategies for the treatment and prevention of visual disorders. The long-term goal of our laboratory is to generate breakthroughs that make these new treatment and prevention approaches possible.

Neuroscience, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain, PhD, 1992

Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago, Spain, MS, 1989

Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago, Spain, MD, 1989

  • 2014-Present: Distinguished Professor, State University of New York, College of Optometry, New York, NY
  • 2007-2014: Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, SUNY College of Optometry, New York, NY
  • 2004-2007: Associate Professor with tenure, Dept. of Biological Sciences, SUNY College of Optometry, New York, NY
  • 2002-2004: Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, SUNY College of Optometry, New York, NY
  • 1999-2001: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
  • 1995-1999: Research Associate, Laboratory of Neurobiology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY
  • 1993-1995: Postdoctoral Fellow with Torsten N. Wiesel (Nobel prize winner) and Clay Reid, Laboratory of Neurobiology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY

  • 2010-2015: P.I. NIH RO1 EY02067901
  • 1999-2017: P.I. NIH RO1 EY05253
  • 2009-2012: P.I. NSF IIS 0904727
  • 2008-2010: P.I. NIH R21 NS059753
  • 2003-2008: P.I. NIH RO3 EY14345
  • 2001-2004: CoPI. NIH RO3 EY13788
  • 2006-2006: Faculty Member, Faculty of 1000 Biology SUNY Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
  • 2003: SUNY Chancellor’s award for Research Excellence
  • 1995-1996: Revson Fellowship
  • 1993-1994: Fulbright Fellowship
  • 1990-1992: Fellowship from Formación de Personal Investigador del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia
  • 1989-1990: Fellowship from Diputacion Provincial de Galicia
  • 1985-1989: Fellowship from Xunta de Galicia

  • Neural circuitry of the visual cortex
  • Function of thalamic and cortical circuits in receptive field construction
  • The neural circuitry of visual attention

  • Baylor College of Medicine (Houston)
  • Brown University (Providence)
  • California Institute of Technology (Los Angeles)
  • City University of New York (Manhattan, New York)
  • City University of New York (Queens, New York)
  • Columbia University (New York), Drexel University (Philadelphia), Cosyne 2008 (Salt Lake City)
  • Harvard Medical School (Boston)
  • Japan Society for Neuroscience (Nagoya),
  • Johns Hopkins University (Maryland),
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Munich, Germany)
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
  • Physiological Society of London (Cambridge, UK)
  • Salk Institute (San Diego)
  • Spanish Society for Neuroscience (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
  • Spanish Society for Neuroscience (Valladolid, Spain)
  • Spanish Society of Psychiatry (Vigo, Spain)
  • State University of New York (Stonybrook, Long Island)
  • State University of New York (College of Optometry, Manhattan)
  • University College of London (London, UK)
  • University of California (Los Angeles)
  • University of South California (Los Angeles)
  • University of Connecticut (Storrs)
  • University of Malaga (Malaga, Spain)
  • University of Montreal (Montreal, Canada)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
  • University of Santiago de Compostela (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
  • Yale University (New Haven, CT)
  • Weill Medical College of Cornell University (New York)

Luis M. Martinez.
Associate Professor,
Neuroscience Institute of Alicante, Spain

Monica Cano Viñas.
Postdoctoral student at Yale University

Yao Chen.
Assistant Professor
Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Jianzhong Jin.
Current postdoctoral student

Xiaobing Li.
Current postdoctoral student

Jens Kremkow.
Current postdoctoral student

Reece Mazade
Current postdoctoral student

Francisco J. Veredas (Ph.D.)
Associate Professor,
University of Malaga, Spain

Carl Stoelzel (M.S.)
Research Scientist,
University of Connecticut

Chun-I Yeh (Ph.D.) Assistant Professor,
National University of Taiwan

Chong Weng (Ph.D)
Actuarial analyst working in industry

Yushi Wang (M.D., M.S.)
Current Ph.D. student

Sanjiv Anand (M.D.)
Medical Resident at SUNY Downstate

Reza Lashgari (M.D., M.S.)
Current Ph.D. student

Stanley Komban.
Current Ph.D. student

Mike Jansen.
Current Ph.D. student

Carmen Pons.
Current Ph.D. student

Erin Koch.
Current Ph.D. student

Lauren Wool.
Current Ph.D. student

Jason Bachand, Graduated May 1999
Catherine Takacs, Graduated May 2000
Lucia Perfetti, Graduated May 2000
Michael Eglinton, Graduated May 2001
Stephanie Hyer, Graduated May 2002
Michael McKee, Graduated May 2001
Monika Pychynska, Graduated May 2001
Eric Rey, Graduated May 2001
Bosko Trputec, Graduated May 2001
Faryal Razzaq, Graduated May 2011
Rebecca Lee, Graduated May 2013
Christine Shukis, Graduated May 2014
Mandy Yang, Graduated May 2014
Tyler Wang, Graduated May 2014
Caroline Sendek, Graduated May 2015

  • Early visual processing in the brain, Graduate students (2009-Present)
  • Ocular Anatomy and Physiology, Optometry students (2007)Research Council at SUNY Optometry (2002-)
    -Faculty Executive Committee at SUNY Optometry (2007-2010)
    -Strategic Planning Committee at SUNY Optometry (2008)
    -Presidential Inauguration Committee at SUNY Optometry (2008)
    -Honorary degree committee (2008-)
    -Institutional Research Program Committee (2008-)
    -Committee on Professional Qualifications (2009-)
  • Sensation and Perception (University of Connecticut). Undergraduate students (1999-2001)
  • Sensation and Movement (University of Connecticut). Graduate students (2002)
  • Seminars in Behavioral Neuroscience (University of Connecticut). Graduate students (2001-2002)

  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at The University of Connecticut (1999-2002) and SUNY College of Optometry (2002)
  • Thesis committees at the University of Connecticut, University of Malaga (Spain), Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York), University College of London (UK) and University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
  • Chairman of the Committee on graduate admissions at SUNY College of Optometry (2005)
  • Dean Search Committee at SUNY College of Optometry (2008)
  • Research Council at SUNY Optometry (2002)
  • Faculty Executive Committee at SUNY Optometry (2007)
  • Strategic Planning Committee at SUNY Optometry (2008)
  • Presidential Inauguration Committee at SUNY Optometry (2008)
  • Honorary degree committee (2008- Present)

  • Arizona Biomedical Research Commission (USA)
  • Biomedical Research Council of Singapore (Singapore)
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK)
  • City University of New York (USA)
  • National Institutes of Health (USA)
    • Scientific Review IFCN-8 (2003)
    • Scientific Review ZRG1 F02B (2003-2006)
    • Scientific Review SMI (2006)
    • Scientific Review ZRG1-IFCN-B-03M (2007)
    • Scientific Review NEI for K99s (2007)
    • Scientific Review NEI for K08s, K23s, K99s and T32s (2007)
    • Chairman of Scientific Review ZRG1 F02B (2008)
    • Scientific Review NEI LRP (2008)
    • Member of Scientific Review NEI CVP (2008-2012)
  • National Science Foundation (USA)
  • Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (The Netherlands)
  • Research Foundation at the University of Connecticut (USA)
  • The Israel Science Foundation (Israel)
  • The Wellcome Trust (UK)

Brain Research, Cerebral Cortex, Current Biology, Experimental Brain Research, Journal of Neurophysiology, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Journal of Vision, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Open Neuroscience Journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Perception, PLoS Biology, PLoS ONE, Progress in Neurobiology, Vision Research, Visual Neuroscience, Science.

  • Journal of Optometry (Editorial Board, 2009- Present)
  • Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience (Reviewing Editor, 2010 - Present)
  • Journal of Neuroscience (Reviewing Editor, 2013 - Present)
  • Journal of Neurophysiology (Associate Editor, 2014 - Present)