Marie Burns

image of Marie Burns



Ophthalmology - Medicine
Cell Biology & Human Anatomy
Center for Neuroscience

Offices and Labs

1515 Newton Ct., Rm 604C
3307 Tupper Hall



1996 PhD Neurobiology Duke University
1992 BS Biochemistry Susquehanna University

Research Interests

Photoreceptor biology and Retinal Neuroinflammation

The first steps in vision begin in the photoreceptors of the retina, which transduce photons of light into electrical signals. Our lab examines the biochemical and biophysical properties of signaling in photoreceptors, as well as the consequences of defective signaling on visual performance.

We are also trying to understand why and how photoreceptors die, which is the ultimate leading cause of blindness in humans.  Photoreceptor degeneration, like all neurodegenerative diseases, leads to microglial activation and neuroinflammation.   We are trying to understand the regulation of neuroinflammation, its relationship to neovascularization, and its helpful vs harmful consequences for perserving neuronal and synaptic function.



Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow
E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation Award
Cogan Award (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology)
Outstanding Graduate Mentor in Neuroscience
Kavli Fellow (National Academy of Sciences)
Neuroscience Faculty Service Award

Department and Center Affiliations

Center for Neuroscience
Center for Visual Sciences
Dept of Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Dept of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy


Society for Neuroscience
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Biophysical Society
International Society for Eye Research
International Society of Neuroinflammation

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Cellular Responses to Toxins and Stress
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Physiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Organelle and Membrane Biology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vision

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS

Graduate Group in Immunology


Burns lab website
  • Sarah Karlen, PhD - Assistant Project Scientist
  • Eric Miller - Neuroscience Graduate Student
  • Kaity Ronning - Neuroscience Graduate Student
  • Gabriel Peinado - Neuroscience Graduate Student (co-mentored with Ed Pugh)
  • Karli Ching - undergraduate researcher
  • Sonia Frick - undergraduate student
  • Manasa Susarla - undergraduate student

Teaching Interests

Cellular neurophysiology; signal transduction mechanisms


NSC 221 Cellular Neuroscience
NSC 290 Retina Journal Club
NSC 270 Grant Writing in the Biomedical Sciences


7/27/2015 10:00:35 AM
  • Wang, X., Miller, E.B., Goswami, M., Zhang, P., Ronning, K. E., Karlen, S.J., Zawadzki, R.J., Pugh, Jr. E.N., and Burns, M.E. (2017). Rapid monocyte infiltration following retinal detachment is dependent on non-canonical IL6 signaling through gp130.  J. Neuroinflam. 14, 121. doi: 10.1186/s12974-017-0886-6. PMID: 28645275.

  • Zhang, P., Zawadzki, R.J., Goswami, M., Nguyen, P.T., Yarov-Yarovoy, V., Burns, M.E., and Pugh, Jr., E.N. (2017).  In vivo photoreceptor optophysiology reveals that G-protein activation triggers osmotic swelling and increased light scattering of rod photoreceptors. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.  PMID: 28320964.

  • Peinado Allina, G. Fortenbach, C.F., Naarendorp, F., Gross, O.P., Pugh, Jr. E.N., Burns, M.E. (2017). Bright flash response recovery of mammalian rods in vivo is rate-limited by RGS9.  J. Gen. Physiol.  149, 443-454.  PMID: 28320964.

  • Burns, M.E., Levine, E.S., Miller, E.B., Zam, A., Zhang, P., Zawadzki, R.J., and Pugh, Jr., E.N. (2016).  New developments in murine imaging for assessing photoreceptor degeneration in vivo.  Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. 854, 269-75. PMID: 26427421.

  • Zhang, P., Zam, A., Jian, Y., Wang, X., Li, Y., Lam, K.S., Burns, M.E., Sarunic, M.V., Pugh, Jr. E.N. and Zawadzki, R.J. (2015).  In vivo wide-field multispectral SLO-OCT mouse retinal imager:  longitudinal imaging of ganglion cells, microglia, and Müller glia, and mapping of the mouse retinal and choroidal vasculature.  J Biomed Optics 20, 126005. PMID: 26677070.

  • Zawadzki, R.J., Zhang, P., Zam, A., Miller, E.B., Goswami, M., Wang, X., Jonnal, R.S., Lee, S-H., Kim, D.Y., Flannery, J.G., Werner, J.S., Burns, M.E., Pugh, E.N.  (2015).  Adaptive-optics SLO imaging combined with widefield OCT and SLO enables precise 3D localization of fluorescent cells in the mouse retina. Biomedical Optics Express. 6, 2191-210.  

  • Gross, O.P., Pugh, E.N., Jr., and Burns, M.E. (2015).  cGMP in mouse rods:  the spatiotemporal dynamics underlying single photon responses.  Front Mol Neurosci, 8, 6. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2015.00006. eCollection 2015.

  • Fortenbach, C.F. Peinado, G., Kessler, C. and Burns, M.E. (2015). Speeding rod recovery improves temporal resolution in the retina.  Vision Res, 110, 57-67.

  • Levine, E.S., Zam, A., Zhang, P., Pechko, A., Wang, X., FitzGerald, P., Pugh, Jr., E.N., Zawadzki, R. and Burns, M.E.  (2014). Rapid light-induced migration of retinal microglia in mice lacking Arrestin-1.  Vision Res., 102, 71-9.

  • Kessler, C., Tillman, M., Burns, M.E., and Pugh, E.N., Jr. (2014). Rapid regeneration of rod photoreceptor surface rhodopsin measured with the early receptor potential in vivo.   J. Physiol. 592, 2785-97. 

  • Arshavsky, V.Y., and Burns, M.E. (2014). Current understanding of signal amplification in phototransduction. Cellular Logistics 4, e29390;

  • Long, J.H., Arshavsky, V.Y. and Burns, M.E.  (2013). Absence of synaptic regulation by phosducin in retinal slices. Plos One 8, e83970.

  • Gross, O.P., Pugh, Jr. E.N. and Burns, M.E. (2012). Calcium feedback to cGMP synthesis strongly attenuates single- photon responses driven by long rhodopsin lifetimes. Neuron 76, 370-382.
  • Gross, O.P., Pugh, Jr. E.N. and Burns, M.E. (2012). Spatiotemporal cGMP dynamics in living mouse rods. Biophys. J. 102, 1775-1784.