ellis-davies lab

My research interests are at the interface of chemistry and biology. Specifically my lab develops and uses optical probes, called "caged compounds", to understand fundamental principles in cellular physiology. I have worked in this field since my post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. During that time I published two seminal papers developing the most widely used caged calcium probes (PNAS 1988, 1994). These light-sensitive reagents have been the basis of 100s of biological studies in many disciples. Since 1995 I have had an independent lab that has been continuously funded by the US National Institutes of Health. During this period the focus of my research has been developing and using tools for two-photon microscopy. In 2001 we published a seminal paper in this field, which was the first example of optical stimulation of visually designated single synapses (Nature Neuroscience). This work proved the foundation for work by many neuroscience labs around the world. My recent research at Mount Sinai has involved developing new probes that allow chromatically selective, multi-color uncaging. With this work we have taken optical stimulation of cells out of the "monochrome era" so as to enable bi-directional control of neuronal signaling with different colors of light for the first time.

In the past 30 years the use of fluorescence imaging in biological sciences has been as important as DNA-based methods advancing our understanding in almost every field. (Nobel Prizes for GFP (2008) and super resolution imaging (2014) are testament to this.) My work during this period has pioneered the use of light to control cell function, the optical tools we have made have proved to be conceptual fundamental enabling technologies. The goal of my current and future work is to be equally transformative.


Graham Ellis-Davies, PhD

My lab uses organic chemistry to develop new optical methods for cell physiology.

  Click here for more publications→ Meet the team →