On behalf of our scientists, clinicians and trainees in vision, I would like to welcome you to the Vanderbilt Vision Research Center or VVRC, as we like to call it in Nashville. Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center continue to share a rich and diverse tradition in vision sciences. The VVRC was founded in 1989 through the funding of a National Eye Institute P30 Core Grant, which continues to this day (P30-EY08126). The rapid growth of the VVRC arose through collaboration between our inaugural director Dr. Maureen Powers, PhD, and Dr. Denis O’Day, MD, past chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. Their vision research programs and joint efforts to bolster training in visual sciences established a template for cross-campus collaboration that quickly blossomed and continues to this day. Since those early days, we have grown to include nearly 60 members across Vanderbilt campuses. Contributing research programs span the College of Arts & Science, Peabody College, School of Engineering and the School of Medicine with individual federal grants exceeding $11 million in direct research support. The mission of the VVRC is simple: to understand the biological substrates of vision and mechanisms of eye disease through novel technologies, strategies and partnerships.
VVRC faculty investigations span a rich gamut, from the molecular underpinnings of photoreceptor function to visual consciousness and awareness. Translational programs directed by VVRC faculty include lens protein structure in cataract, mechanisms of optic nerve degeneration, and new imaging modalities for diagnostic use in the clinic. Pre- and post-doctoral trainees in vision can derive support from two National Eye Institute training grants administered by VVRC faculty. Our trainees and staff partner with VVRC faculty on a range of transformative investigations in vision science, including:

  • Visually guided behavior and cognition
  • Neural processes underlying visually guided behavior
  • Comparative anatomy and physiology of visual systems
  • Development and plasticity of the visual systems
  • Molecular mechanisms of retinal processing
  • Diagnosis and treatment of vision disorders
  • Machine vision
  • Regenerative medicine in visual neuroscience
  • Multi-sensory processing and health and developmental disorders
Within these pages you will learn about our exciting research, supporting service modules and their directors, educational opportunities, and the many accolades and events involving our faculty and staff. It’s a big visual system out there – and we hope you agree VVRC research is leading the way in defining the cutting edge of discovery!



David J. Calkins, Ph.D.
Director, Vanderbilt Vision Research Center
VEI Research Labs: Calkins, Levine, Sappington, Rex and Fuhrmann. Vanderbilt University Medical Center photo: Anne Rayner; VU
Contact Vanderbilt Vision Research Center
The Vanderbilt Eye Institute
AA7100 MCN/Imaging Bldg
1161 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37232
Phone: (615) 343-7620
Email: vvrc@vanderbilt.edu