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Joshua H. Singer, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

University of Maryland College Park

Secondary Appointment(s):


Additional Title:

Interim Chair, Department of Biology


Department of Biology University of Maryland 4066 Campus Drive College Park, MD 20742

Phone (Primary):


Education and Training

  • Brown University, ScB, Biology, 1993
  • University of Washington, PhD, Physiology and Biophysics, 1998
  • National Institutes of Health, Postdoctoral Study, Neuroscience, 1998-2004


My research program is focused on synaptic interactions between neurons in retinal and retino-recipient circuits. My general goal is to understand how the properties of their component cells and synapses permit these circuits to process visual stimuli. My work is of interest to sensory neuroscientists specifically and to neuroscientists generally: the former because it relates to the coding of sensory information and the latter because it provides an understanding of the basic principles of synaptic communication between neurons and neural circuit function. Since moving to the University of Maryland in 2012, my laboratory has included four neuroscience graduate students, and I have trained six postdoctoral fellows. Additionally, I have served the neuroscience graduate program in various capacities, most recently as the Director, and worked on various campus initiatives related to neuroscience, including the Brain and Behavior Initiative (now the Brain and Behavior Institute) and the creation of the undergraduate major in Neuroscience. I also have worked with many undergraduates (over 60) in my laboratory. Finally, I have taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at UMD. As Interim Chair of the Department of Biology, I am committed to strengthening the department’s educational and research programs and supporting the career development of junior members of the faculty.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Retina, synapse, exocytosis, ultrastructure, circuit, neuron

Highlighted Publications

  1. Liang, C-Q, Zhang, G, Zhang, L, Chen, S-Y, Wang, J-N, Zhang, T-T, Singer, JH, & Ke, J-B (2021) Calmodulin bidirectionally regulates evoked and spontaneous neurotransmitter release at retinal ribbon synapses. eNeuro 8(1) ENEURO.0257-20.2020 1–18. DOI: PMCID: PMC7808332
  2. Park, S, Lieberman, EE, Ke, J-B, Rho, N, Ghorbani, P, Rahmani, P, Jun, N-Y, Lee, H-J, Kim, I-J, Briggman, KL, Demb, JB, & Singer, JH. (2020) Connectomic analysis reveals an interneuron with an integral role in the retinal circuit for night vision. eLife 9: e56077. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.56077 PMCID: PMC7228767
  3. Fernandez­, DC, Fogerson, MP, Ospri, LL, Thomsen, MB, Layne, RM, # Severin, D, Zhan, J, Singer, JH, Kirkwood, A, Zhao, H, Berson, D, & Hattar, S. (2018) Light affects mood through a novel retina-brain circuit. Cell 175(1): 71-84.e18. 
  4. Graydon, CW, Lieberman, EE, Rho, N, Briggman, KL, Singer, JH, & Diamond, JS.  (2018) Synaptic transfer between rod and cone pathways mediated by AII amacrine cells in the mouse retina. Current Biology 28(17): 2739-2751.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.063. PMCID: PMC6133723
  5. Koschak, A, Singer, JH, and Pangrsic, T. (2018) Voltage gated calcium channels: key players in sensory coding. Physiological Reviews 98(4) :2063-2096. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00030.2017.  PMCID: PMC6170976
  6. Mortensen, LS, Park, SJH, Ke, J-B, Cooper, BH, Zhang, L, Imig, C, Löwel, S, Reim, K, Brose, N, Demb, JB, Rhee, J-S, and Singer, JH. (2016) Complexin 3 increases the fidelity of signaling in a retinal circuit by regulating exocytosis at ribbon synapses. Cell Rep. 15(10): 2239–2250.  PMCID: PMC5134263
  7. Pallotto, M, Watkins, PV, Fubara, B, Singer, JH, and Briggman, KL. (2015) Extracellular space preservation benefits the anatomical reconstruction of neural circuits. eLife Dec 9;4. pii: e08206. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08206. 
  8. Demb, JB and Singer, JH. (2015) Functional circuitry of the retina. Annu Rev Vis Sci Vol. 1: 263–289. 

Awards and Affiliations

  • 2011: Research to Prevent Blindness Special Scholar Award for Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • 2008: Kavli Foundation Frontiers of Science Symposium Fellowship
  • 2007-2009: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship
  • 2002-2007: NINDS Career Development (K-22) Award
  • 2000: Fellows’ Award for Research Excellence (NIH)
  • 1999-2001: Pharmacology Research Associate Training Program Fellowship (NIGMS)

Professional Activity

NIH Study Sections: Member, Neurotransporters, Receptors, Channels and Calcium Signaling (2016-2022)

Previous Positions

01/05-12/11             Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine         

01/12–06/14             Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Maryland              

07/14–08/18             Associate Professor of Biology, University of Maryland                       

07/17–06/20             Director, Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Maryland