M. Carter Cornwall, PhD

Emeritus Professor, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics

M. Cornwall


The work in our laboratory is focused on understanding the response of the vertebrate eye to and recovery from the effects of bright light. Our principal approach is to make electrophysiological measurements of rod and cone photoreceptors of cold-blooded vertebrate animals, and to correlate these physiological responses to microspectrophotomeric measurements of the visual pigments as well as microfluorometric measurements of the concentration of vitamin A and Ca2+ contained within the cells. The reduction of all–trans retinal to Vitamin A is one of the principal initial steps that must occur following exposure to bright light to allow recovery of sensitivity (dark adaptation). Experiments have also shown that Ca2+ is a principal messenger substance during bright (bleaching) adaptation.

Other Positions

  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • University of Utah, PhD
  • University of Utah, BS


  • Published on 4/14/2023

    Adhikari RD, Kossoff AM, Cornwall MC, Makino CL. Bicarbonate boosts flash response amplitude to augment absolute sensitivity and extend dynamic range in murine retinal rods. Front Mol Neurosci. 2023; 16:1125006. PMID: 37122625.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/15/2020

    Luo DG, Silverman D, Frederiksen R, Adhikari R, Cao LH, Oatis JE, Kono M, Cornwall MC, Yau KW. Apo-Opsin and Its Dark Constitutive Activity across Retinal Cone Subtypes. Curr Biol. 2020 12 21; 30(24):4921-4931.e5. PMID: 33065015.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/20/2019

    Lokappa SB, Cornwall MC, Chen J. Isoelectric Focusing to Quantify Rhodopsin Phosphorylation in Mouse Retina. Bio Protoc. 2019 Jul 20; 9(14):e3300. PMID: 33654813.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/22/2019

    Yue WWS, Silverman D, Ren X, Frederiksen R, Sakai K, Yamashita T, Shichida Y, Cornwall MC, Chen J, Yau KW. Elementary response triggered by transducin in retinal rods. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 03 12; 116(11):5144-5153. PMID: 30796193.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/5/2017

    Morshedian A, Toomey MB, Pollock GE, Frederiksen R, Enright JM, McCormick SD, Cornwall MC, Fain GL, Corbo JC. Cambrian origin of the CYP27C1-mediated vitamin A1-to-A2 switch, a key mechanism of vertebrate sensory plasticity. R Soc Open Sci. 2017 Jul; 4(7):170362. PMID: 28791166.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/22/2017

    Pahlberg J, Frederiksen R, Pollock GE, Miyagishima KJ, Sampath AP, Cornwall MC. Voltage-sensitive conductances increase the sensitivity of rod photoresponses following pigment bleaching. J Physiol. 2017 Jun 01; 595(11):3459-3469. PMID: 28168711.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/10/2017

    Yue WW, Frederiksen R, Ren X, Luo DG, Yamashita T, Shichida Y, Cornwall MC, Yau KW. Spontaneous activation of visual pigments in relation to openness/closedness of chromophore-binding pocket. Elife. 2017 Feb 10; 6. PMID: 28186874.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2017

    Sato S, Frederiksen R, Cornwall MC, Kefalov VJ. The retina visual cycle is driven by cis retinol oxidation in the outer segments of cones. Vis Neurosci. 2017 Jan; 34:E004. PMID: 28359344.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/12/2016

    Toomey MB, Lind O, Frederiksen R, Curley RW, Riedl KM, Wilby D, Schwartz SJ, Witt CC, Harrison EH, Roberts NW, Vorobyev M, McGraw KJ, Cornwall MC, Kelber A, Corbo JC. Complementary shifts in photoreceptor spectral tuning unlock the full adaptive potential of ultraviolet vision in birds. Elife. 2016 Jul 12; 5. PMID: 27402384.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/1/2016

    Frederiksen R, Nymark S, Kolesnikov AV, Berry JD, Adler L, Koutalos Y, Kefalov VJ, Cornwall MC. Rhodopsin kinase and arrestin binding control the decay of photoactivated rhodopsin and dark adaptation of mouse rods. J Gen Physiol. 2016 Jul; 148(1):1-11. PMID: 27353443.

    Read at: PubMed

View 71 more publications: View full profile at BUMC

View all profiles