Zachary Helft (PhD Alumnus)
Background: Zach hails from Hoosick Falls, NY where he graduated from public high-school('07). From there he attended Colgate University, majoring in cellular neuroscience and minoring in economics. After earning his degree, he was employed at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, working in industrial operations and product supply. He joined the vision science graduate group in August of 2012 and rotated in a visual psychophysics lab before finding a home in Kramerica. While working on his doctorate, Zach has been active in the science outreach community and entrepreneurial societies. In September of 2014, he co-founded C. Light Technologies, Inc., an NIH and angel-funded organization devoted to identifying useful biomarkers in eye motion that will aid in the efficient and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, and multiple sclerosis.
Completed Research: Zach's work in the Kramer lab focused on the changes that occur in the mammalian retina following photoreceptor degeneration which allow photoswitches to efficiently impart light sensitivity onto otherwise "blind" cells.
Publications: Tochitsky I, Helft Z, Meseguer V, Fletcher RB, Vessey KA, Telias M, Denlinger B, Malis J, Fletcher EL, Kramer RH (2016) "How Azobenzene Photoswitches Restore Visual Responses to the Blind Retina." Neuron. 5;92(1):100-113.