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Christian Damsgaard

Assistant Professor, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark and previously University of British Colombia, Canada

During his AIAS-COFUND Fellowship, Christian Damsgaard will be working on the project 'Sensory evolution from a bird's eye perspective – elucidating the physiological basis for superior eyesight'

Project description

Visual perception of the world requires energy, which must be sustained by a constant supply of oxygen to the light-absorbing retina of the eye. Yet, the retina of sharp-sighted birds does not possess internal capillary beds to supply oxygen, as most other tissues do, so adequate oxygen delivery by simple diffusion seems fundamentally impossible. This project aims to unravel the physiological mechanisms that support birds' exceptional vision by investigating putative pathways that can distribute oxygen and energy within retinal cells. To do this, I will measure how oxygen distributes within the eye and use spatial transcriptomics to uncover the underlying physiological and biochemical mechanisms. By investigating those pathways in the retina of multiple species of birds and reptiles, I will generate an integrative data set on the physiological mechanisms underlying the evolution of superior vision in birds.     

Short bio

I'm a comparative physiologist interested in physiological mechanisms underlying respiratory gas-exchange in animals. In my research, I use the eye's retinal as a model organ and integrate methodologies from cardiorespiratory physiology, quantitative morphology, and molecular biology to illuminate the physiological mechanisms underlying the evolution of vision.     

Project title: Sensory evolution from a bird's eye perspective – elucidating the physiological basis for superior eyesight.    

Area of research: Comparative Animal Physiology

Fellowship period: 1 Aug 2020 - 30 Sep 2023

Fellowship type: AIAS-COFUND II Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow


Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications



AU Pure profile

This fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.