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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.


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

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

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

Anterior chamber cholesterolosis in a patient with retinoblastoma. Digit J Ophthalmol. 2016; 22(1):35-7. View in: PubMed

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

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

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

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

Endoscopic vitrectomy. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2014 May; 25(3):195-206. View in: PubMed

23-gauge endoscopic vitrectomy. Dev Ophthalmol. 2014; 54:108-19. View in: PubMed

Outcomes of choroidal melanomas treated with eye physics: a 20-year review. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013 Nov 1; 131(11):1435-42. View in: PubMed

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

Malignant teratoid medulloepithelioma with retinoblastic and rhabdomyoblastic differentiation. J AAPOS. 2013 Jun; 17(3):328-31. View in: PubMed

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

Early intravitreal treatment of endogenous bacterial endophthalmitis. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 2011 Nov; 39(8):771-8. View in: PubMed

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

Accuracy of retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis by retinal fellows. Retina. 2010 Jun; 30(6):958-65. View in: PubMed

Hand-held spectral domain optical coherence tomography finding in shaken-baby syndrome. Retina. 2010 Apr; 30(4 Suppl):S45-50. View in: PubMed

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

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

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

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

Macular star associated with Behçet disease. Retina. 2006 Apr; 26(4):468-70. View in: PubMed

Rb induces a proliferative arrest and curtails Brn-2 expression in retinoblastoma cells. Mol Cancer. 2006; 5:72. View in: PubMed

New retinoblastoma tumor formation in children initially treated with systemic carboplatin. Ophthalmology. 2003 Oct; 110(10):1989-94; discussion 1994-5. View in: PubMed

Treatment of choroidal melanoma using photodynamic therapy. Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Jun; 135(6):898-9. View in: PubMed

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