Nerve cells communicate using electrical and chemical signals. Ion channels are the proteins that generate electrical signals in neurons, and synaptic transmission is the process that allows a neuron to communicate chemically with other cells. Our studies utilize novel chemical reagents to modify the function of ion channels and synapses. This Chemical-Biological approach is designed to allow non-invasive optical sensing and optical manipulation of channels and synapses in the nervous system. One major goal of this research is to develop the technology for restoring vision in degenerative blinding diseases.