Bioengineering and neuroengineering applications of retinal physiology, visual neuroscience, and ophthalmology, including the interface between cells and micro/nanotechnologies.
Professor Silva's research focuses on studying the physiology and pathophysiology of the neural retina and developing novel technological applications to treat degenerative retinal disorders. Of particular interest is the physiology and cell biology of retinal photoreceptors, which are the cells that transduce incoming light into neural signals. These cells often stop functioning properly in various families of retinal degenerative disorders, including retinitis pigmentosa and age related macular degeneration, and one of Silva's main areas of study is developing novel cellular therapies to rescue or replace lost photoreceptors by combining bioengineering, cell biology, and micro- and nanotechnologies. A related area of interest is the physiology of glial cells in the retina (e.g. astrocytes and Muller cells). Under pathological conditions astrocytes form what is called the glial scar, which is a "walling off" effect that prevents neurons from interacting with each other and has been shown to be an important phenomena in retinal degenerative disorders (as well as other traumatic central nervous systems disorders). These and other areas are studied using both experimental techniques and theoretical modeling (computational) methods.
Gabriel Silva became an associate professor of bioengineering at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering in 2003. He also holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor in ophthalmology. Silva received his Ph.D. in bioengineering and ophthalmology, from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001. Most recently he was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University's Institute for Bioengineering and Nanoscience in Advanced Medicine. Silva is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the Society for Neuroscience.