Wei Wei

Associate Professor

Ph.D. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Postdoc. University of California, Berkeley

Department of Neurobiology

The University of Chicago
947 E. 58th St., MC0928
Chicago, IL 60637

Email: weiw@uchicago.edu
Phone: (773) 702-2016 (office)/(773) 702-1501 (lab)
Fax: (773) 702-3774

Wei Lab website

Research Interest

Neural circuit function and development in the visual system.

Research Description

How are neural circuits assembled to perform specific computations? An excellent model system to address this question is the mammalian retina, where a diverse set of neural circuits are wired with remarkable precision and intricacy to extract ethologically relevant features such as color, contrast and motion from the visual scene. Each retinal circuit utilizes distinct sets of neuronal cell types and conveys the processed visual information to higher brain center(s) by a specific type of retinal ganglion cells.

We are interested in the synaptic and circuit basis of neural computations in the retina. Our current research is focused on understanding the developmental and adult patterns of synaptic connections underlying visual motion detection. We perform  functional neural circuit analysis by leveraging the increasing repertoire of experimental and computational tools to target and manipulate the activation of specific circuit components.  Our studies aim to provide insights into the neural mechanisms of sensory processing, and also have broader implications in the fundamental questions of synapse development and organization in the CNS.

Select Publications

  • Huang, X., Rangel, M., Briggman, K.L., and Wei, W. (2019). Neural mechanisms of contextual modulation in the retinal direction selective circuit. Nat. Commun. 10, 2431. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10268-z

  • Bleckert A, Zhang C, Turner MH, Koren D, Berson DM, Park SJH, Demb JB, Rieke F, Wei W, Wong RO. GABA release selectively regulates synapse development at distinct inputs on direction-selective retinal ganglion cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci. (2018) Dec 3. pii: 201803490. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1803490115. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 30509993
  • Wei Wei. Neural Mechanisms of Motion Processing in the Mammalian Retina. Annual Review of Vision Science. (2018) 4(1), annurev-vision-091517-034048. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-vision-091517-034048
  • Qiang Chen, Wei Wei. "Stimulus-dependent engagement of neural mechanisms for reliable motion detection in the mouse retina". (Review) J Neurophysiol. (2018) Jun 13. doi: 10.1152/jn.00716.2017.https://www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jn.00716.2017
  • Wei, W. Compartmentalized dendritic signaling in a multitasking retinal interneuron. (Commentary) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 201715503 (2017). doi:10.1073/pnas.1715503114 http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/10/11/1715503114
  • David Koren, James Grove, Wei Wei.  "Cross-compartmental modulation of dendritic signals for retinal direction selectivity". Neuron (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.07.020  
  • Xuefeng Shi, Jad Barchini, Hector Acaron Ledesma, David Koren, Yanjiao Jin, Xiaorong Liu, Wei Wei and Jianhua Cang. "Retinal Origin of Direction Selectivity in the Superior Colliculus". Nat. Neurosci. 2017 doi: 10.1038/nn.4498
  • Qiang Chen, Zhe Pei, David Koren and Wei Wei. 2016 "Stimulus-dependent recruitment of lateral inhibition underlies retinal direction selectivity." eLife  2016 Dec 8;5. pii: e21053. doi: 10.7554/eLife.21053.
  • Zhe Pei, Qiang Chen, David Koren, Benno Giammarinaro, Hector Acaron Ledesma and Wei Wei. 2015 "Conditional Knock-Out of Vesicular GABA Transporter Gene from Starburst Amacrine Cells Reveals the Contributions of Multiple Synaptic Mechanisms Underlying Direction Selectivity in the Retina." J. Neurosci.  23 September 2015, 35(38): 13219-13232.
  • Jason W Triplett, Wei Wei, Cristina Gonzalez, Neal T Sweeney, Andrew D Huberman, Marla B Feller and David A Feldheim.  “Dendritic and Axonal Targeting Patterns of a Genetically-Specified Class of Retinal Ganglion Cells that Participate in Image-Forming Circuits.” Neural Development 2014 Feb 5;9:2. doi: 10.1186/1749-8104-9-2.
  • Michal Rivlin-Etzion, Wei Wei and Marla Feller. 2012 “Visual stimulation reverses the directional preference of direction selective retinal ganglion cells.” Neuron 76, 518-525
  • Wei Wei and Marla B. Feller. 2011 “Organization and development of direction selective circuits in the retina” (Review). Trends in Neurosciences Dec;34(12):638-45. Epub 2011 Aug 26.
  • Michal Rivlin-Etzion, Kaili Zhou, Wei Wei, Justin Elstrott, Phong Nguyen, Ben Barres, Andrew Huberman, and Marla Feller. 2011 “Transgenic mice reveal unexpected diversity of On-Off direction selective retinal ganglion cell subtypes and brain structures involved in motion processing.”  J. Neurosci.  Jun 15; 31(24):8760-9.
  • Wei Wei, Aaron M. Hamby, Kaili Zhou, Marla B. Feller. 2011. “Development of asymmetric inhibition underlying retinal direction selectivity in the retina.” Nature 469(7330):402-6.
  • Wei Wei, Justin Elstrott, & Marla B. Feller. 2010. “Two-photon targeted recording of GFP-expressing neurons for light responses and live-cell imaging in the mouse retina.”  Nature Protocols 5, 1347– 1352.
  • Peter G. Fuerst, Freyja Bruce, Miao Tian, Wei Wei, Justin Elstrott, Marla B. Feller, Lynda Erskine, Joshua H. Singer, and Robert W. Burgess. 2009. “DSCAM and DSCAML1 Function in Self-Avoidance in Multiple Cell Types in the Developing Mouse Retina.” Neuron 64(4):484-97.
  • Huberman A*, Wei W*, Elstrott J*, Stafford B, Feller MB, Barres B. 2009. “Genetic identification of On-Off direction selective retinal ganglion cells reveals a layer specific subcortical map of posterior motion.” Neuron 62: 327-334. (* equal contribution).
  • Wei Wei, Louis N. Nguyen, Helmut W. Kessels, Hiroaki Hagiwara, Sangram Sisodia and Roberto Malinow. 2009. “Amyloid-Beta from Dendrites and Axons Reduces Local Spine Number and Plasticity.” Nature Neuroscience 13, 190 – 196.
  •  Kopec CD, Li B, Wei W, Boehm J, Malinow R. 2006. “Glutamate receptor exocytosis and spine enlargement during chemically induced long-term potentiation.” J. Neurosci. Feb 15;26(7):2000-9.


  • 2012 Brinson Foundation Award
  • 2012 Whitehall Foundation Grant
  • 2013 Sloan Research Fellowship
  • 2013 E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation Grant
  • 2014 Karl Kirchgessner Foundation Grant
  • 2016 McKnight Scholar Award


For postdoc application, please send CV and names/contact information of three references to weiw@uchicago.edu

Graduate students in the Neurobiology, Computational Neuroscience, Biophysics and MSTP programs are encouraged to contact weiw@uchicago.edu for rotations and potential thesis research opportunities.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Please send CV and U. Chicago transcripts to weiw@uchicago.edu