As a pre-med undergraduate at the University of California Irvine, I enjoyed a course in neurobiology. Little did I know that that one course would alter the direction of my life forever. During that course, a spark ignited a burning passion to understand the response of the nervous system to injury, with the hope that it could be modified to facilitate the repair and restore function. The pathway of discovery has traversed chemistry as an undergraduate student, neuroanatomy as a graduate student, neurophysiology as a postdoctoral fellow and as a faculty member, cell biology, genetics and now genomics. Recently my group has brought all of these disciplines to bear on the study of optic nerve regeneration. We are identifying regions of DNA that directly modify the ability of injured neurons to regenerate down the optic nerve to the brain. With funding from the BrightFocus Foundation, we hope to identify specific genes that can be modified to facilitate the regrowth of damaged axons to the brain and restore vision. This is an exciting time for people working on optic nerve regeneration for real progress is being made.