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Thomas C. Lee, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
CHL Mail Stop 88 Off Campus Los Angeles
+1 323 361 4510


Dr. Lee has an active research program that focuses on developing new therapies to treat retinopathy of prematurity and retinoblastoma. He has identified a novel class of drugs to accelerate cell death of both retinoblastoma cells and vascular endothelial cells. He also studies the role that retinal stem cells play both in the formation of retinoblastoma tumors as well as replacement of damaged neurons resulting from degenerative retinal diseases.

As director of the Retina Institute in The Vision Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Thomas C. Lee is overseeing the growth of this highly respected program. He came to Children's Hospital in 2006 from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital / Cornell University, where he was director of the pediatric retina service, and associate director of the Robert M. Ellsworth Ocular Oncology Center. Dr. Lee earned his bachelor's at Johns Hopkins University and received his MD from Cornell University where he graduated with Honors in Research as a Howard Hughes Scholar. He completed his ophthalmology residency at Cornell and then went to Harvard Medical School as a Heed Fellow where he studied retinal stem cells and the role they play in cancer. He completed his retina fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School before returning to Cornell where he was a Fred Gluck Scholar. He held the position of Associate Director of the Robert M. Ellsworth Ocular Oncology Center at Cornell until being recruited to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Lee has made significant advances in our understanding of pediatric retinal disorders. He has pioneered the use of cutting edge imaging techniques such as Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (SD-OCT) to identify retinal detachments at the earliest possible stage. He is also the first to use an intraocular endoscope to perform complex surgery in pediatric retinal detachments resulting from retinopathy of prematurity, familial exudative vitreo-retinopathy, x-linked retinoschisis, and trauma. He has identified novel drugs that can induce blood vessel and tumor regression and is currently designing new ways to enhance delivery into the eye. His work has been supported by a number of grants from research foundations and has numerous peer-reviewed publications in recognition of these accomplishments. While at Cornell he has been awarded the Distinguished House Staff Award, and the Resident Teaching, Franklyn Ellenbogen Prize, and Dean William Mecklenburg Polk Memorial Prize, and has recently been recognized with the Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for his contributions both in advancing the field as well as teaching courses to enhance the skills of other ophthalmologists. He holds membership in the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Association of Pediatric Retina Surgeons, and the Ocular Oncology Research Society, and the New York Ophthalmological Society.


Mitsouras D, Lee TC, Liacouras P, Ionita CN, Pietilla T, Maier SE, Mulkern RV. Three-dimensional printing of MRI-visible phantoms and MR image-guided therapy simulation. Magn Reson Med. 2017 Feb; 77(2):613-622. View in: PubMed

Berry JL, Shih G, Moysidis SN, Jubran R, Wong K, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kim JW. Patterns of subretinal fluid resolution in Group D eyes treated with chemoreduction: Experience from the Children's Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California. Ophthalmic Genet. 2016 Dec; 37(4):400-403. View in: PubMed

Li WL, Buckley J, Sanchez-Lara PA, Maglinte DT, Viduetsky L, Tatarinova TV, Aparicio JG, Kim JW, Au M, Ostrow D, Lee TC, O'Gorman M, Judkins A, Cobrinik D, Triche TJ. A Rapid and Sensitive Next-Generation Sequencing Method to Detect RB1 Mutations Improves Care for Retinoblastoma Patients and Their Families. J Mol Diagn. 2016 Jul; 18(4):480-93. View in: PubMed

Hong BK, Say EA, Chévez-Barrios P, Lee TC, Kim JW. Anterior chamber cholesterolosis in a patient with retinoblastoma. Digit J Ophthalmol. 2016; 22(1):35-7. View in: PubMed

Zhu D, Berry JL, Ediriwickrema L, Wong K, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kim JW, Jubran R. Long-Term Outcomes of Group B Eyes in Patients with Retinoblastoma Treated with Short-Course Chemoreduction: Experience from Children's Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California. Ocul Oncol Pathol. 2015 Dec; 2(2):105-11. View in: PubMed

Browne AW, Dandapani SV, Jennelle R, Stevanovic M, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kampp TD, Astrahan MA, Kim JW, Berry JL. Outcomes of medium choroidal melanomas treated with ruthenium brachytherapy guided by three-dimensional pretreatment modeling. Brachytherapy. 2015 Sep-Oct; 14(5):718-25. View in: PubMed

Berry JL, Jubran R, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Lee D, Kim JW. Low-Dose Chemoreduction for Infants Diagnosed with Retinoblastoma before 6 Months of Age. Ocul Oncol Pathol. 2015 Feb; 1(2):103-10. View in: PubMed

Berry JL, Jubran R, Wong K, Lee TC, Murphree AL, Kim JW. Factors predictive of long-term visual outcomes of Group D eyes treated with chemoreduction and low-dose IMRT salvage: The Children's Hospital Los Angeles experience. Br J Ophthalmol. 2014 Aug; 98(8):1061-5. View in: PubMed

Wong SC, Lee TC, Heier JS, Ho AC. Endoscopic vitrectomy. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2014 May; 25(3):195-206. View in: PubMed

Wong SC, Lee TC, Heier JS. 23-gauge endoscopic vitrectomy. Dev Ophthalmol. 2014; 54:108-19. View in: PubMed

Kang KB, Orlin A, Lee TC, Chiang MF, Chan RV. The use of digital imaging in the identification of skip areas after laser treatment for retinopathy of prematurity and its implications for education and patient care. Retina. 2013 Nov-Dec; 33(10):2162-9. View in: PubMed

Berry JL, Dandapani SV, Stevanovic M, Lee TC, Astrahan M, Murphree AL, Kim JW. Outcomes of choroidal melanomas treated with eye physics: a 20-year review. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013 Nov 1; 131(11):1435-42. View in: PubMed

Earl JB, Minckler DS, Lee TC, Murphree AL. Malignant teratoid medulloepithelioma with retinoblastic and rhabdomyoblastic differentiation. J AAPOS. 2013 Jun; 17(3):328-31. View in: PubMed

Berry JL, Jubran R, Kim JW, Wong K, Bababeygy SR, Almarzouki H, Lee TC, Murphree AL. Long-term outcomes of Group D eyes in bilateral retinoblastoma patients treated with chemoreduction and low-dose IMRT salvage. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2013 Apr; 60(4):688-93. View in: PubMed

Yonekawa Y, Chan RV, Reddy AK, Pieroni CG, Lee TC, Lee S. Early intravitreal treatment of endogenous bacterial endophthalmitis. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 2011 Nov; 39(8):771-8. View in: PubMed

Xu XL, Lee TC, Offor N, Cheng C, Liu A, Fang Y, Jhanwar SC, Abramson DH, Cobrinik D. Tumor-associated retinal astrocytes promote retinoblastoma cell proliferation through production of IGFBP-5. Am J Pathol. 2010 Jul; 177(1):424-35. View in: PubMed

Paul Chan RV, Williams SL, Yonekawa Y, Weissgold DJ, Lee TC, Chiang MF. Accuracy of retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis by retinal fellows. Retina. 2010 Jun; 30(6):958-65. View in: PubMed

Muni RH, Kohly RP, Sohn EH, Lee TC. Hand-held spectral domain optical coherence tomography finding in shaken-baby syndrome. Retina. 2010 Apr; 30(4 Suppl):S45-50. View in: PubMed

Muni RH, Kohly RP, Charonis AC, Lee TC. Retinoschisis detected with handheld spectral-domain optical coherence tomography in neonates with advanced retinopathy of prematurity. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Jan; 128(1):57-62. View in: PubMed

Xu XL, Fang Y, Lee TC, Forrest D, Gregory-Evans C, Almeida D, Liu A, Jhanwar SC, Abramson DH, Cobrinik D. Retinoblastoma has properties of a cone precursor tumor and depends upon cone-specific MDM2 signaling. Cell. 2009 Jun 12; 137(6):1018-31. View in: PubMed

Lee TC, Almeida D, Claros N, Abramson DH, Cobrinik D. Cell cycle-specific and cell type-specific expression of Rb in the developing human retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006 Dec; 47(12):5590-8. View in: PubMed

Elison JR, Cobrinik D, Claros N, Abramson DH, Lee TC. Small molecule inhibition of HDM2 leads to p53-mediated cell death in retinoblastoma cells. Arch Ophthalmol. 2006 Sep; 124(9):1269-75. View in: PubMed

Chan RV, Lee TC, Chaganti RK, Cestari DM, Kim MT, Lee S. Macular star associated with Behçet disease. Retina. 2006 Apr; 26(4):468-70. View in: PubMed

Cobrinik D, Francis RO, Abramson DH, Lee TC. Rb induces a proliferative arrest and curtails Brn-2 expression in retinoblastoma cells. Mol Cancer. 2006; 5:72. View in: PubMed

Lee TC, Hayashi NI, Dunkel IJ, Beaverson K, Novetsky D, Abramson DH. New retinoblastoma tumor formation in children initially treated with systemic carboplatin. Ophthalmology. 2003 Oct; 110(10):1989-94; discussion 1994-5. View in: PubMed

Barbazetto IA, Lee TC, Rollins IS, Chang S, Abramson DH. Treatment of choroidal melanoma using photodynamic therapy. Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Jun; 135(6):898-9. View in: PubMed

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