Stephen H. Tsang, MD, PhD
Photo: Stephen H. Tsang
Elected 2016

Our laboratory is engaged in tackling neurodegenerative disorders by pursuing investigations in three areas, two of which include patient-specific mouse models: probing the role of phosphodiesterase (PDE) signaling in neurodegeneration, developing stem cell-based therapies for photoreceptor degeneration, and correlating the genotypes of various human retinal degenerations with the phenotypes revealed in live metabolic imaging (autofluorescence).

We are also currently focused on gene editing/CRISRP approaches to modulating metabolism in photoreceptor to promote cell survival, which may be broadly applicable to retinal degenerative diseases, regardless of the mutation. While light-adapted normal photoreceptor have a highly anabolic and anaerobic (high lactate) metabolism similar to the Warburg effect observed in stem cells, dark-adapted photoreceptor have aerobic (low lactate), high-ATP metabolism similar to neurons. To translate this dark-adaptation therapy to humans (who would rightly reject being maintained in darkness), our laboratory is developing  “genetic sunglasses” to promote a constant dark-adapted metabolic state in photoreceptor neurons while maintaining a normal light-dark circadian environment.

Stephen H. Tsang graduated from Johns Hopkins University, where he began his genetics training under the tutelage of Professor Victor A. McKusick. He received his M.D.-Ph. D. degrees from the NIH-National Institute of General Medical Sciences Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at Columbia University. Dr. Tsang's contributions has being recognized by the 2005 “Bernard Becker-Association of University Professor in Ophthalmology”-“Research to Prevent Blindness” Award, Carl Camras Award, the 2013 Bradley Straatsma Lectureship, 2018 Young Investigator Award, Macular Society. Dr. Tsang received 2008 resident teaching award and is the Columbia ophthalmology basic science course director (2006-2011). He is an elected member of several honorary societies including Alcon Research Institute and American Ophthalmological Society. He is consistently named to various NIH study sections (DPVS standing member 2014-8).

Research focus:  

Calcium-mediated neuronal degeneration mechanisms

Light-induced Warburg metabolism

Genome engineering in patient-specific stem cells

Stem cell and gene therapies