View on GitHub

Luca Della Santina, PhD

Personal profile, interests and contacts

Download Resume Academic profile GitHub profile LinkedIn profile Contact me

About me

I am an experienced neuroscientist and data scientist with particular focus on neurodegenerative diseases, retinal physiology and connectivity. My scientific background is in medicinal chemistry, followed by a PhD in neuroscience and a Postdoctoral training centered on retinal development and neurodegeneration. I am currently an Assistant Professor at the Ophthalmology department of University of California, San Francisco.

In this page you will find more information on my current research interests, scientific publications and open source software I am developing for neuroscience applications. Please feel free to use the software in your laboratory, share this page with others or contact me to start a collaboration.

Scientific Consulting and Collaboration

If your laboratory or company is seeking for collaboration or an expert consultation, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. Some of the expertise that I can offer include:

  1. Creation of custom machine learning models for data analysis
  2. Development of full-stack, GUI-based software applications
  3. Quantitative 3D image analysis and visualization
  4. Definition of scientific protocols and guidelines
  5. Electrophysiology recording rig setup and optimization
  6. Microscopy & imaging station setup and optimization
  7. Creation of data analysis pipelines and data center hardware optimization

For more information, please download my academic resume or contact me via email.

Software Development

As part of my broader scientific activity, I am developing software for image and electrophysiology data analysis targeted to the neuroscience community. The end goal is to improve our resercher's ability to process large datasets using parallel computing and identify patterns in experimental data with the aid of machine learning.

Here are some of our most useful open source software. In our laboratory, we strongly believe that software developed for data analysis in scientific research must be open source, to ensure the highest level of reproducibility of your science and to remove barriers to tools access.


Automatically quantify objects in large 3D image stacks. Example applications are the automatic detection of synaptic markers in large CNS regions. Perform automatic colocalization analysis, plot data and generate deep-learning models for automatic validation of synapses.


Time series analysis for electrophysiology data. Analyze your electrophysiology traces using a simple user interface. Clarinet's plugin-interface is ideal for you to write your own custom analysis and plotting, and apply it to each recorded neuron.


Free-form cutter for volumetric images. This program allows you to define fiducial points inside a volume and cut along them, generate and manipulate binary masks as well as manipulate and visualize digital skeletons.


Elimination of Trachoma, the major infectious blinding disease worldwide, is a key challenge of our times. This tool uses deep learning to automatically detect early signs of Trachoma in smartphone photos, in hope of helping our physicians and epidemiologists cure this disease once for all.

Recent scientific publications

A dual role for Ca v 1.4 Ca 2+ channels in the molecular and structural organization of the rod photoreceptor synapse

Elife. 2020; e62184. Full text on PubMed.

Mature retina compensates functionally for partial loss of rod photoreceptors.

Cell Rep. 2020; 31(10):107730. Full text on PubMed.

Partial Cone Loss Triggers Synapse-Specific Remodeling and Spatial Receptive Field Rearrangements in a Mature Retinal Circuit.

Cell Rep. 2019; 27(7):2171-2183. Full text on PubMed.

Biolistic Labeling of Retinal Ganglion Cells.

Methods Mol Biol. 2018; 1695:161-170. Full text on PubMed.

Selective Vulnerability of Specific Retinal Ganglion Cell Types and Synapses after Transient Ocular Hypertension.

J Neurosci. 2016; 36(35):9240-52. Full text on PubMed.

Glutamatergic Monopolar Interneurons Provide a Novel Pathway of Excitation in the Mouse Retina.

Curr Biol. 2016; 26(15):2070-2077. Full text on PubMed.

Who's lost first? Susceptibility of retinal ganglion cell types in experimental glaucoma.

Exp Eye Res. 2017; 158:43-50. Full text on PubMed.

Involvement of Autophagic Pathway in the Progression of Retinal Degeneration in a Mouse Model of Diabetes.

Front Cell Neurosci. 2016; 10:42. eCollection 2016. Full text on PubMed.

Illuminating the multifaceted roles of neurotransmission in shaping neuronal circuitry.

Neuron. 2014; 83(6):1303-1318. Full text on PubMed.

Functional architecture of the retina: development and disease.

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2014; 42:44-84. Full text on PubMed.

Interplay of cell-autonomous and nonautonomous mechanisms tailors synaptic connectivity of converging axons in vivo.

Neuron. 2014; 82(1):125-37. Full text on PubMed.

Sensory experience shapes the development of the visual system's first synapse.

Neuron. 2013; 80(5):1159-66. Full text on PubMed.

Differential progression of structural and functional alterations in distinct retinal ganglion cell types in a mouse model of glaucoma.

J Neurosci. 2013; 33(44):17444-57. Full text on PubMed.