School of Medicine

World-renowned vision scientist Krzysztof Palczewski to join UCI School of Medicine

World-renowned vision scientist Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD, joins UCI School of Medicine.
UCI School of Medicine
Internationally regarded chemist and pharmacologist Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD, and his researcher team will develop new vision therapies at UCI's Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.

New research group to focus on inherited and age-related retinal diseases in their efforts to treat blindness

Irvine, Calif. – Aug. 7, 2018 – The University of California, Irvine School of Medicine welcomes Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD, to the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology and the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, effective September 2018.

The internationally renowned chemist, pharmacologist and vision scientist has made critical contributions to our understanding of the molecular basis of age-related macular degeneration and inherited retinal degeneration, illuminating the path toward the development of new vision therapies.

Palczewski joins UCI from Case Western Reserve University, where he served as the John H. Hord professor, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology. Arriving with him will be a collaborative team of noted vision researchers who will join the Department of Ophthalmology and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

Palczewski's team members will maximize opportunities to translate the insights from basic science investigations into clinical therapeutics, and they will form the initial core of a planned Center for Translational Vision Research at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.

"We are very excited to have Dr. Palczewski and his team here at UCI," said Baruch D. Kuppermann, MD, PhD, chair of the ophthalmology department and director of the eye institute. "This research group has been studying the pharmacology of vision for more than 30 years and their work has made a tremendous impact on our ongoing efforts to restore vision in human patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and other congenital mutations that result in early-stage blindness."

Palczewski is best known for discovering the structure, folding and binding properties of rhodopsin, a light-sensitive receptor protein. This discovery profoundly increased the understanding of the molecular basis of vision and the structure of photoreceptor cells in the retina. It also contributed to the ability generate new molecular therapeutics for age-related macular degeneration and other retinopathies.

"Dr. Palczewski’s presence at UCI School of Medicine and his work through the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute hold great promise for people in the global community, not to mention the fact that his joining our faculty speaks volumes for the reputation of our institution," said Michael J. Stamos, MD, dean of the UCI School of Medicine. "With the addition of this team, UCI is positioned to lead cutting-edge research surrounding common blinding diseases and deliver innovative therapies for the millions of people robbed of their sight or those afflicted with progressive visual diseases resulting in blindness."

Palczewski’s many contributions to science have been widely published in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals including Nature, Science, Neuron, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Journal of Biochemistry and Journal of Clinical Investigation.

In addition to his research, Palczewski holds 22 patents and is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2015 Bressler Award in Vision Science and the inaugural 2014 Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research.

He is the only scientist to win both the Cogan Award for the most promising young vision scientist and the Friedenwald Award for continuously outstanding ophthalmology research, which he received in 1996 and 2014, respectively from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. His work is cited more than 42,000 times and he has a scientific impact garner h factor of 111.

Today, the global impact of blindness and visual impairment is enormous, especially in the aging population. The major causes, in addition to cataracts, are age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Further, the increasing incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes frequently results in blindness due to retinal disease.


About the UCI School of Medicine

Each year, the UCI School of Medicine educates more than 400 medical students, as well as 130 doctoral and master's students. Nearly 700 residents and fellows are trained at UC Irvine Medical Center and affiliated institutions each year. The UCI School of Medicine offers an MD degree, a dual MD/PhD medical scientist training program, PhDs and master’s degrees in anatomy and neurobiology, biomedical sciences, genetic counseling, epidemiology, environmental health sciences, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and biophysics, and translational sciences. Medical students also may pursue an MD/MBA program, a combined MD/Master's in Public Health or a dual MD/master’s program called the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC). UCI School of Medicine is accredited by Liaison Committee on Medical Accreditation (LCME), and ranks among the top 50 nationwide for research. For more information, visit:

About the University of California, Irvine

Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. Located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities, UCI is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

For more information, contact:
Anne Warde
UCI School of Medicine