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Senior Investigator

Jeffrey S. Diamond, Ph.D.

Synaptic Physiology Section

Porter Neuroscience Research Center
Building 35A Room 3E-621
35 Convent Drive MSC 3701
Bethesda MD 20892-3701
Office: (301) 435-1896
Lab: (301) 435-1897
Fax: (301) 435-1895

Dr. Diamond received his B.S. from Duke University in 1989 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco in 1994, where he studied excitatory synaptic transmission in the retina with David Copenhagen. During a postdoctoral fellowship with Craig Jahr at the Vollum Institute, he investigated the effects of glutamate transporters on excitatory synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Dr. Diamond joined NINDS as an investigator in 1999, was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering in 2000 and was promoted to Senior Investigator in 2007. His laboratory studies how synapses, neurons and small circuits perform computational tasks required for visual information processing in the mammalian retina.

Synapses mediate communication between neurons in the CNS. We have learned a great deal about the structural and molecular organization of these specialized contacts, but many important physiological questions remain unresolved. How do the morphological characteristics of the synaptic cleft and the biophysical properties of neurotransmitter receptors influence synaptic signaling? How do transporters, which bind free neurotransmitter and remove it from the extracellular space, limit the extent to which it diffuses from its point of release? Can neurotransmitter diffuse out of the synaptic cleft to activate receptors in neighboring synapses and, if so, how does this "spillover" degrade or enhance the information capacity of a neuronal network? How are these processes developmentally regulated? In the hippocampus, answers to these questions may give insight into the mechanisms by which learning and memory are implemented at the synaptic level. In the retina, they may help explain how visual information is transformed into a neural code and how the visual system's exquisite sensitivity and spatial acuity is preserved. We approach these questions experimentally using electrophysiological and imaging methods in hippocampal and retinal slice preparations.

Reciprocal Synapses in the Retina

This figure shows a rendered three-dimensional EM reconstruction of a reciprocal synapse in the mammalian retina. Rod bipolar cells (RBC,orange) make excitatory, ribbon-type synapses onto A2 (purple) and A17 (red) amacrine cells. A2s relay the rod bipolar signal to the cone pathway, and A17s regulate this process through reciprocal GABAergic synapses back onto the RBC terminal. The three-dimensional reconstructions revealed (right panel) that each A17 synaptic varicosity receives one excitatory synapse (blue sphere) and returns two reciprocal inhibitory synapses (yellow sphere). Recent work in the lab has shown how the A17 transforms the excitatory input into inhibitory feedback and how hundreds of these individual feedback microcircuits operate independently within a single A17. For details, see Grimes, et al. (2010).

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Staff Image
  • Daniel Carrera, B.S.
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Mihael Cudic, B.S.
    Predoctoral IRTA Fellow

  • William Grimes, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist

  • Xiaoyi Li, B.S.
    Pre-doctoral IRTA

  • Morgan Musgrove, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate IRTA Fellow

  • Johan Pahlberg, Ph.D.
    Senior Scientist

  • Dr. Miloslav Sedlacek, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    (301) 402-5446

  • Ms. Hua Tian, B.S.

  • Dr. Jun Zhang, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist
    (301) 496-8252

  • 1) Poleg-Polsky A, Ding H, Diamond, JS (2018)
  • Functional Compartmentalization within Starburst Amacrine Cell Dendrites in the Retina
  • Cell Rep., 22, 2898-2908
  • 2) Ding H,Smith RG,Poleg-Polsky A,Diamond JS,Briggman KL (2016)
  • Species-specific wiring for direction selectivity in the mammalian retina.
  • Nature, 535, 105-110
  • 3) Poleg-Polsky, A and Diamond, JS (2016)
  • NMDA receptors multiplicatively scale visual signals and enhance directional motion discrimination in retinal ganglion cells
  • Neuron, 89, 1277-1290
  • 4) Poleg-Polsky, A and Diamond, JS (2016)
  • Retinal Circuitry Balances Contrast Tuning of Excitation and Inhibition to Enable Reliable Computation of Direction Selectivity
  • J. Neurosci., 36, 5861-5876
  • 5) Grimes, WN, Zhang, J, Tian, H, Graydon, CW, Hoon, M, Rieke, F, Diamond, JS (2015)
  • Complex inhibitory microcircuitry regulates retinal signaling near visual threshold
  • J. Neurophysiol., 114, 341-353
  • 6) Graydon, CW, Cho, S, Diamond, JS, Kachar, B, von Gersdorff, H and Grimes, WN (2014)
  • Specialized postsynaptic morphology enhances neurotransmitter dilution and fast, frequency-tuned signaling at an auditory synapse
  • J. Neurosci., 34, 8358-8372
  • 7) Graydon, CW, Zhang, J, Oesch, NW, Sousa, AA, Leapman, RD and Diamond, JS (2014)
  • Passive diffusion as a mechanism underlying ribbon synapse vesicle release and resupply
  • J. Neurosci. , 34, 8948-8962
  • 8) Scimemi, A and Diamond, JS (2012)
  • The number and organization of Ca2+ channels in the active zone shapes neurotransmitter release from Schaffer collateral synapses
  • J. Neurosci, 32, 18157-18176
  • 9) Thomas, CG, Tian, H and Diamond, JS (2011)
  • The relative roles of diffusion and uptake in clearing synaptically released glutamate change during early postnatal development
  • J. Neurosci., 31, 4743-4754
  • 10) Oesch, NW and Diamond, JS (2011)
  • Ribbon synapses compute temporal contrast and encode luminance in retinal rod bipolar cells
  • Nat. Neurosci., 14, 1555-1561
  • 11) Grimes, WN, Zhang, J, Graydon, CW, Kachar, B and Diamond, JS (2010)
  • Retinal parallel processors: More than 100 independent microcircuits operate within a single interneuron
  • Neuron, 65, 873-885
  • 12) Chavez, AE, Grimes, WN and Diamond, JS (2010)
  • Mechanisms Underlying Lateral GABAergic Feedback onto Rod Bipolar Cells in Rat Retina
  • J. Neurosci., 30, 2223-2234
  • 13) Zhang, J and Diamond, JS (2009)
  • Subunit- and Pathway-Specific Localization of NMDA Receptors and Scaffolding Proteins at Ganglion Cell Synapses in Rat Retina
  • J. Neurosci., 29, 4274-4286
  • 14) Kalbaugh, TL, Zhang, J and Diamond, JS (2009)
  • Coagonist release modulates NMDA receptor subtype contributions at synaptic inputs to retinal ganglion cells
  • J. Neurosci., 29, 1469-1479
  • 15) Oesch, NW, Kothmann, WW and Diamond, JS (2011)
  • Illuminating Synapses and Circuitry in the Retina
  • Curr. Opin. Neurobiol., 21, 238-244
  • 16) Grimes, WN, Seal, RP, Oesch, N, Edwards, RH and Diamond, JS (2011)
  • Genetic targeting and physiological features of VGLUT3+ amacrine cells
  • Vis. Neurosci., 28, 381-392
  • 17) Poleg-Polsky, A and Diamond, JS (2011)
  • Imperfect space clamp permits electrotonic interactions between inhibitory and excitatory synaptic conductances, distorting voltage clamp recordings
  • PLoS ONE, 6, e19463
  • 19) Diamond, JS (2011)
  • Grilled RIBEYE stakes a claim for synaptic ribbons
  • Nat. Neurosci., 14, 1097-1098
  • 20) Raz-Prag, D, Grimes, WN, Fariss, RN, Vijayasarathy, C, Campos, MM, Bush, RA, Diamond, JS and Sieving, PA (2010)
  • Probing potassium channel function in vivo by intracellular delivery of antibodies in a rat model of retinal neurodegeneration.
  • PNAS, 107, 12710-12715
  • 21) Scimemi, A, Tian, H and Diamond, JS (2009)
  • Neuronal transporters regulate glutamate clearance, NMDA receptor activation, and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus
  • J. Neurosci., 29, 14581-14595
  • 22) Grimes, WN, Li, W, Chavez, AE and Diamond, JS (2009)
  • BK channels modulate pre- and postsynaptic signaling at reciprocal synapses in retina.
  • Nat. Neurosci., 12, 585-592
  • 23) Oesch, NW and Diamond, JS (2009)
  • A night vision neuron gets a day job
  • Nat. Neurosci., 12, 1209-1211
  • 24) Chavez, AE and Diamond, JS (2008)
  • Diverse mechanisms underlie glycinergic feedback transmission onto rod bipolar cells in rat retina
  • J. Neurosci., 28, 7919-7928
  • 25) Diamond, JS (2007)
  • A light switch controlling Ca-permeable AMPA receptors in the retina
  • J. Physiol., 582, 3
  • 26) Chavez, AE, Singer, JH and Diamond, JS (2006)
  • Fast neurotransmitter release triggered by Ca influx through AMPA-type glutamate receptors
  • Nature, 443, 705-708
  • 27) Diamond, JS (2006)
  • Astrocytes put down the broom and pick up the baton
  • Cell, 125, 639-641
  • 28) Zhang, J and Diamond, JS (2006)
  • Distinct perisynaptic and synaptic localization of NMDA and AMPA receptors on ganglion cells in rat retina
  • J. Comp. Neurol., 498, 810-820
  • 29) Singer, JH and Diamond, JS (2006)
  • Vesicle depletion and synaptic depression at a mammalian ribbon synapse
  • J. Neurophysiol., 95, 3191-3198
  • 30) Diamond, JS (2005)
  • Deriving the glutamate clearance time course from transporter currents in CA1 hippocampal astrocytes: transmitter uptake gets faster during development
  • J. Neurosci., 25, 2906-2916
  • 31) Singer, JH, Lassova, L, Vardi, N, and Diamond, JS (2004)
  • Coordinated multivesicular release at a mammalian ribbon synapse
  • Nat. Neurosci., 7, 826-833
  • 32) Ullian EM, Barkis WB, Chen S, Diamond JS, Barres BA (2004)
  • Invulnerability of retinal ganglion cells to NMDA excitotoxicity
  • Mol. Cell. Neurosci., 26, 544-557
  • 33) Mathews, CG and Diamond, JS (2003)
  • Neuronal glutamate uptake contributes to GABA synthesis and inhibitory synaptic strength
  • J. Neurosci., 23, 2040-2048
  • 34) Singer, JH and Diamond, JS (2003)
  • Sustained Ca2+ entry elicits transient postsynaptic currents at a retinal ribbon synapse
  • J. Neurosci., 23, 10923-10933
  • 35) Diamond, JS (2002)
  • A broad view of glutamate spillover
  • Nat. Neurosci., 5, 291-292
  • 36) Chen S and Diamond JS (2002)
  • Synaptically released glutamate activates extrasynaptic NMDA receptors on cells in the ganglion cell layer of rat retina
  • J. Neurosci., 22, 2165-2173
  • 37) Diamond JS (2001)
  • Neuronal glutamate transporters limit activation of NMDA receptors by neurotransmitter spillover on CA1 pyramidal cells
  • J. Neurosci., 21, 8328-8338
  • 38) Diamond JS, Jahr CE (2000)
  • Synaptically released glutamate does not overwhelm transporters on hippocampal astrocytes during high-frequency stimulation
  • J. Neurophysiol., 83, 2835-2843
  • 39) Bergles DE, Diamond JS, Jahr CE (1999)
  • Clearance of glutamate inside the synapse and beyond
  • Curr Opin Neurobiol, 9, 293-298
  • 40) Diamond JS, Bergles DE, Jahr CE (1998)
  • Glutamate release monitored with astrocyte transporter currents during LTP
  • Neuron, 21, 425-433
  • 41) Diamond JS, Copenhagen DR (1995)
  • The relationship between light-evoked synaptic excitation and spiking behaviour of salamander retinal ganglion cells
  • J Physiol (Lond), 487, 711-725
  • 42) Diamond JS, Jahr CE (1995)
  • Asynchronous release of synaptic vesicles determines the time course of the AMPA receptor-mediated EPSC
  • Neuron, 15, 1097-1107
  • 43) Diamond JS, Copenhagen DR (1993)
  • The contribution of NMDA and non-NMDA receptors to the light-evoked input-output characteristics of retinal ganglion cells
  • Neuron, 11, 725-738
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