Magdalene J. Seiler, Ph.D.

Magdalene J. Seiler, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Research Focus

Primary research focus is retinal sheet transplantation and demonstration of vision restoration in rat models of retinal degeneration and ultimately in retinal degeneration patients.
See lab website at

Academic Distinctions

Dr. Seiler’s Ph.D. in 1985 (LMU University of Munich, Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Dept. Neurochemistry) focused on neurotrophic factors in the central nervous system, followed by postdoctoral studies in retinal transplantation in Winston-Salem, NC and Boston, MA. She was Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville, KY from 1993- 2002, and at the Doheny Eye Institute, USC Department of Ophthalmology 2002-2006. In a collaboration lasting more than 30 years with her colleague, Dr. Robert Aramant, they developed and refined a unique procedure of retinal progenitor sheet transplantation, which has demonstrated improvement of visual responses in the superior colliculus in 4 different retinal degeneration models (RCS rats, rd mice, rho S334ter line 3 and line 5 rat models of fast and slow retinal degeneration). Dr. Seiler participated in Phase I and II clinical trials to transplant sheets of fetal retina with its RPE to patients with retinal degeneration (retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration). The phase II trial showed improvements of visual acuity (EDTRS) in 7 of 10 patients (reference)....

From 2007-2014, she was the lead researcher of the retina project of the Research group of Dr. Hans Keirstead at UC Irvine (now CEO at AiVita Biomedical Inc.). In 2014, she received a 3-year Early Translational grant from CIRM with the goal of developing human embryonic stem cells to transplantable 3-D sheets of retinal progenitor cells for vision restoration. In 2018, she received a 4.7 million TRAN1 grant (2.5 years) entitled “Morphological and functional integration of stem cell derived retina organoid sheets into degenerating retina models.” that will develop this application towards a treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa (see press release June 2018)


  • Postdoctorate, Retinal Transplantation, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 1986-1987

  • Postdoctorate, Retinal Transplantation, Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA 1987-1988
  • Scientific Associate, Retinal Transplantation, Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA, 1989-1992

  • Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences; Anatomy & Neurobiology, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 1993-2002

  • Assistant Professor, Doheny Eye Institute; Ophthalmology; Cell & Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine (USC), 2002-2006

  • Project Scientist, Anatomy & Neurobiology, UC Irvine School of Medicine, 2007 – 2014
  • Project Scientist, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, UC Irvine School of Medicine, 2014-2015

  • Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, UC Irvine School of Medicine, 2015-2019

  • Joint appointment, Ophthalmology, UC Irvine School of Medicine, 2018-present
  • Associate Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, UC Irvine School of Medicine. 2019-present

  • Joint appointment, Anatomy & Neurobiology, UC Irvine School of Medicine, 2019-present

Research Details

The goal of Dr. Seiler’s research is to develop retinal progenitor sheet transplants as a clinical treatment for retinal diseases such a Retinitis Pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, which affect both photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The current focus of her research is to develop human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into transplantable sheets of 3D retina (organoids) and RPE and to demonstrate vision restoration at the level of the superior colliculus and visual cortex in rat models of retinal degeneration. In the frame of her CIRM TRAN1 grant, pre-clinical experiments have demonstrated further the benefits of retinal organoid transplantation, resulting in a pre-IND submitted to the FDA. A new 5-year NIH grant will study co- grafting hESC-retina with RPE and create a new rat model with specifically labeled cell types to study transplant-host connectivity.


Xue Y, Browne AB, Tang WC, Delgado J, McLelland BT, Nistor G, Keirstead HS, Chen JT, Chew K, Lee N, Seiler MJ*. Retinal Organoids Long-term Functional Characterization Using Two-Photon Fluorescence Lifetime and Hyperspectral Microscopy; Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience - Cellular Neurophysiology: 15:796903 (2021, in press); special research topic “Innovative Cell and Tissue Culture Approaches for Modeling Mammalian Retinal Development, Pathologies, Regeneration, and Therapies in a Dish” (accepted 11-26-21). doi: 10.3389/fncel.2021.796903.

Thomas BB*, Lin B*, Martinez-Camarillo JC, Zhu D, McLelland BT, Nistor G, Keirstead HS, Humayun MS, Seiler MJ. Co-grafts of human embryonic stem cell derived retina organoids and retinal pigment epithelium in immunodeficient retinal degenerate Royal College of Surgeons rats. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 15:752958 (2021); special issue “Stem Cell-Based Therapy in Retinal Degeneration”; doi:10.3389/fnins.2021.752958. PMID: 34764853; PMCID: PMC8576198. * = equivalent contribution

McAleer S, Fast A, Xue Y, Seiler MJ, Tang WC, Balu M, Baldi P, Browne AW. Deep learning-assisted multiphoton microscopy to reduce light exposure and expedite imaging in tissues with high and low light sensitivity. TVST, 10(12):30 (2021). PMID: 34668935; DOI:10.1167/tvst.10.12.30

To view Dr. Seiler's full list of publications and works, click here.

Related Links

Dr. Seiler's Website

Seiler Lab

Seiler TRAN1 grant $4.8M


Phone: (949) 824-2037

Department Affiliations:
Dept. of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation