Eric Gustafson

Ph.D. 2009

Thesis Title:

D-serine: A study of its function and regulation in the retina

Current Position:

Acting Assistant Professor, University of Washington

Former Position:

Research Scientist, Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

St. Cloud State University, BA in Philosophy

Major Advisor(s):

Robert Miller, M.D.

Research Description:

My current research examines the role the amino acid D-serine plays as the coagonist to the NMDA receptor in the retina. The coagonist site was commonly referred to as the “glycine site” because it was assumed that glycine was the endogenous agonist. It is now clear that endogenous D-serine is active at this site in many places in the nervous system. We have obtained evidence that the retina is one such location. Much, however, is still unknown. For example, the rate and method of release are still unknown. Equally unclear is whether or not glycine, the presumed coagonist, plays any role at the NMDA receptor at all.

To tackle this issue, I am currently using electrophysiological recordings, both extracellular and whole-cell, combined with capillary electrophoresis (to measure D-serine and glycine levels).

Lab Rotations:

  • Jose Pardo
  • Chuck Nelson
  • Bob Miller

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • BIOL 4004 Cell Biol
  • NSc 5201 Computational Neurosci
  • NSc 5202 Theoretical Neurosci
  • STAT 5021
  • PA 5701 (Political Affairs) Science and State
  • PA 5112  Public Budgeting

Conferences Attended:

  • Society for Neuroscience annual meeting - Fall 2003, 2004, 2005

Conference Presentations:

  • D-serine is an endogenous coagonist of the NMDA receptor in the salamander retina. E.C. Gustafson, E.R. Stevens, R.F. Miller.  Presented at the 35th Annual Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Conference in Washington DC, 2005.
  • Glycine transporters enable D-serine modulation of NMDARs currents in the retina.  E.C. Gustafson, E.R. Stevens, R.F. Miller.  Presented at ARVO Conference Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2006.
  • D-serine deaminase: a new tool that establishes D-serine as an endogenous coagonist of NMDA receptors in the retina.  E.C. Gustafson and R.F. Miller.  Presented at ARVO Conference Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2007.

Committee Members:

  • Paulo Kofuji
  • Eric Newman
  • Micheal Bowser

Selected Publications:

  • Gustafson EC, Morgans CW, Tekmen M, Sullivan SJ, Esguerra M, Konno R, Miller RF. Retinal NMDA receptor function and expression are altered in a mouse lacking D-amino acid oxidase activity. J Neurophysiol. 2013;110(12):2718-26
  • Stevens ER, Gustafson EC, Sullivan SJ, Esguerra M, Miller RF. Light-evoked NMDA receptor-mediated currents are reduced by blocking D-serine synthesis in the salamander retina. Neuroreport. 2010;21(4):239-44.
  • Stevens ER, Gustafson EC, Miller RF. Glycine transport accounts for the differential role of glycine vs. D-serine at NMDA receptor coagonist sites in the salamander retina. Eur J Neurosci. 2010;31(5):808-16.
  • Gustafson EC, Stevens ER, Wolosker H, Miller RF. Endogenous D-serine contributes to NMDA receptor-mediated light-evoked responses in the vertebrate retina. J Neurophysiol. 2007; 98(1):122-30.

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • American Physiological Society
  • The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (AVRO)

Home Town:

  • St. Paul, MN
Eric Gustafson