Klassen, Henry, 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

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

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

Detail on Research
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.


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