Jeffrey S. Diamond, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Synaptic Physiology Section


Building 35A, Room 3E-621
35 Convent Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-3701


Research Topics

Synapses mediate communication between neurons in the CNS. We have learned a great deal about the structural and molecular organization of these specialized contacts, but many important physiological questions remain unresolved. How do the morphological characteristics of the synaptic cleft and the biophysical properties of neurotransmitter receptors influence synaptic signaling? How do transporters, which bind free neurotransmitter and remove it from the extracellular space, limit the extent to which it diffuses from its point of release? Can neurotransmitter diffuse out of the synaptic cleft to activate receptors in neighboring synapses and, if so, how does this "spillover" degrade or enhance the information capacity of a neuronal network? How are these processes developmentally regulated? In the hippocampus, answers to these questions may give insight into the mechanisms by which learning and memory are implemented at the synaptic level. In the retina, they may help explain how visual information is transformed into a neural code and how the visual system's exquisite sensitivity and spatial acuity is preserved. We approach these questions experimentally using electrophysiological and imaging methods in hippocampal and retinal slice preparations.


Dr. Diamond received his B.S. from Duke University in 1989 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco in 1994, where he studied excitatory synaptic transmission in the retina with David Copenhagen. During a postdoctoral fellowship with Craig Jahr at the Vollum Institute, he investigated the effects of glutamate transporters on excitatory synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Dr. Diamond joined NINDS as an investigator in 1999, was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering in 2000 and was promoted to Senior Investigator in 2007. His laboratory studies how synapses, neurons and small circuits perform computational tasks required for visual information processing in the mammalian retina.

Selected Publications

  1. Poleg-Polsky A, Diamond JS. NMDA Receptors Multiplicatively Scale Visual Signals and Enhance Directional Motion Discrimination in Retinal Ganglion Cells. Neuron. 2016;89(6):1277-1290.

  2. Poleg-Polsky A, Ding H, Diamond JS. Functional Compartmentalization within Starburst Amacrine Cell Dendrites in the Retina. Cell Rep. 2018;22(11):2898-2908.

  3. Chávez AE, Singer JH, Diamond JS. Fast neurotransmitter release triggered by Ca influx through AMPA-type glutamate receptors. Nature. 2006;443(7112):705-8.

  4. Grimes WN, Zhang J, Graydon CW, Kachar B, Diamond JS. Retinal parallel processors: more than 100 independent microcircuits operate within a single interneuron. Neuron. 2010;65(6):873-85.

  5. Oesch NW, Diamond JS. Ribbon synapses compute temporal contrast and encode luminance in retinal rod bipolar cells. Nat Neurosci. 2011;14(12):1555-61.

This page was last updated on September 13th, 2018