Portrait of Aaron Nagiel, MD, PhD

Aaron Nagiel, MD, PhD

Attending Physician
Investigator, Ophthalmology Research and Neuroscience Research
Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine of USC

As a surgeon specializing in retinal disorders of childhood and adolescence, Dr. Aaron Nagiel joins The Vision Center with a commitment to providing the highest quality care in a compassionate manner to his patients and their families. He complements this clinical expertise with an active laboratory and translational research program that is developing novel therapeutic approaches for children with diseases of the retina and vitreous.

Dr. Aaron Nagiel earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University summa cum laude, and then underwent combined MD and PhD training at Cornell University and The Rockefeller University in New York City. His PhD work was supported by an NIH fellowship and contributed to our understanding of how synapses form in the developing brain. After an internship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Nagiel completed both ophthalmology residency and vitreoretinal fellowship at the renowned Stein Eye Institute at UCLA.

He leads an active research program aimed towards developing better ways to treat pediatric retinal diseases through state-of-the-art imaging, advanced surgical devices, and novel treatments including gene therapy and stem cell-based therapy. He has authored two book chapters on the therapeutic use of stem cells for retinal disease and published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Nagiel serves as a reviewer for major ophthalmology journals and an editor of the textbook Cellular Therapies for Retinal Disease: A Strategic Approach. He is a recipient of the prestigious Heed Ophthalmic Foundation Fellowship and the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation Award, as well as numerous departmental awards.

Clinical Interests

Dr. Nagiel specializes in the medical and surgical management of retinal diseases, including retinopathy of prematurity, retinal detachment, ocular trauma, familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, Coats disease, Norrie disease, X-linked retinoschisis, retinitis pigmentosa, Leber congenital amaurosis, Stickler syndrome, persistent fetal vasculature, and other pediatric retinal disorders.  In collaboration with the Center for Personalized Medicine, he leads a state-of-the-art program specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic eye disease, including gene therapy surgery.


Medical School

Weill Cornell Medical College (MD)

Graduate School

The Rockefeller University (PhD)


Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


Stein Eye Institute/ UCLA


Stein Eye Institute/ UCLA



American Board of Ophthalmology

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Ophthalmology
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology


2013 Robert E. Christensen Research Award, Stein Eye Institute
2014 ARVO National Eye Institute Travel Grant
2014, 2016 Excellence in Research Award, Stein Eye Institute
2014, 2015 Pepose-Saltzman Young Investigator ARVO Award, Stein Eye Institute
2015 Heed Ophthalmic Foundation Fellowship
2015 Society of Heed Fellows
2016 Fostering Innovative Retina Stars of Tomorrow (FIRST) Fellowship
2016 Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation Award
2019 Baxter Foundation Fellowship
2021 Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award


Ciulla TA, Hussain RM, Berrocal AM, Nagiel A. Voretigene neparvovec-rzyl for treatment of RPE65-mediated inherited retinal diseases: a model for ocular gene therapy development [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 25]. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2020;1–14.


Yang U, Greer C, Kim J, Nagiel A. Ocular Trauma From Toy Guns With Foam Projectiles in 4 Children. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2020 Jan;59(1):92-94.

Yang U, Gentleman S, Gai X, Gorin MB, Borchert MS, Lee TC, Villanueva A, Koenekoop R, Maguire AM, Bennett J, Redmond TM, Nagiel A. Utility of In Vitro Mutagenesis of RPE65 Protein for Verification of Mutational Pathogenicity Before Gene Therapy. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 Oct 3;137(12):1-9.

Nagiel A, Espiritu MJ, Wong RK, Lee TC, Lauer AK, Chiang MF, Chan RV. (2012) Retinopathy of prematurity residency training. Ophthalmology. 119 (12): 2644-2645.

Nagiel A, Sadda SR, Sarraf D. (2015) A Promising Future for Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography. JAMA Ophthalmology. 133 (6): 629-30.

Nagiel A, Freund KB, Spaide RF, Munch IC, Larsen M, Sarraf D. (2013) Mechanism of retinal pigment epithelium tear formation following intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy revealed by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 156 (5): 981-988.

Nagiel A, Lalane RA, Sadda SR, Schwartz SD. (2016) Ultra-Widefield Fundus Imaging: A Review of Clinical Applications and Future Trends. Retina. 36 (4): 660-678.

Schwartz SD, Tan G, Hosseini H, Nagiel A. (2016) Subretinal transplantation of embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium for the treatment of macular degeneration: An assessment at 4 years. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 57 (5): ORSFc1-9.


Dr. Nagiel leads an active clinical and translational research program aimed towards developing better ways to treat pediatric retinal diseases through state-of-the-art imaging, advanced surgical devices, and novel treatments including gene therapy and stem cell-based therapy. In addition, he conducts laboratory research on retinal development by growing human “mini-retinas” in vitro. The aim of this research is to provide insights into cellular differentiation and connectivity in the human retina and how this process goes awry in the disease state.