Henry Klassen, M.D., Ph.D.

Henry Klassen, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor


Henry Klassen received his MD and PhD degrees at the University of Pittsburgh, followed by internship at The Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School and residency in ophthalmology at Yale Eye Center. He next completed a combined fellowship in London which included medical retina with Prof. Alan Bird at Moorfields Eye Hospital and research with Prof. Ray Lund at the Institute of Ophthalmology. After fellowship he was Director of Stem Cell Research at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, then moved to the Singapore Eye Research Institute, before being recruited to the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of California, Irvine where he is Director of the Stem Cell and Retinal Regeneration Program..

Research in Lay Terms

Retinal progenitor cells can be thought of as a type of stem cell that is specific for the retina. In this way it is a logical choice when considering potential methods of treating retinal degenerative diseases, such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, etc. There are multiple cells that might be useful for treating blindness, however, our emphasis is on identifying the most straightforward path to early clinical application.

Research Focus

Dr. Klassen’s laboratory is currently prioritizing the translational development of human retinal progenitor cells as a therapeutic agent for use in retinal degeneration, specifically targeting retinitis pigmentosa (RP) for initial clinical intervention.

Research Details

Our research has shown that CNS progenitor cells are to some extent immune privileged, are neuroprotective to host photoreceptors, and also provide local cell replacement, notably of rods. We are now in the process of showing how such cells can be derived from human tissue, expanded greatly in culture, tested for safety and efficacy, then transplanted to the diseased eye.

PubMed Link



Email:  hklassen@uci.edu 
Phone: (949) 824-0710
Lab Admin: Jun Xie
Lab Admin Email: xiej.s@uci.edu
Lab Admin Phone: (949) 824-7694

Department Affiliations:
Ophthalmology/Gavin Herbert Eye Institute
Favorite book:
Ulysses (James Joyce)
Favorite Movie:
Brazil (Terry Gilliam)
Favorite Quote:
"Zou wei shang ji"- Ancient Chinese idiom