Thomas C. Lee, MD

Chief, Division of Ophthalmology
Director, The Vision Center
Attending Physician
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine of USC

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.

Clinical Interests

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.


Medical School

Cornell University Medical College


New York Presbyterian Hospital: Internal Medicine


New York Presbyterian Hospital: Ophthalmology


Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary: Retina



Ophthalmology: American Board of Ophthalmology


American Academy of Ophthalmology; Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology; Ocular Oncology Research Society; Retina Society; Clement McCulloch Lecturer, University of Toronto 2013

Medical Awards

•2013 Morris and Mary Press Humanism Award, Children's Hospital Los Angeles •2012 Ellis Island Medal of Honor •2010 Barbara M. Korsch Award for Research in Medical Education, Children's Hospital Los Angeles •2009 Best Doctors in America Award •2009 LA Times Magazine Best Doctors in Southern California Award •2008 Award for Excellence in Residency Training, Doheny Eye Institute •2006 Achievement Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology •2001 Fred Gluch Clinical Scholar •1999 Retina Society Travel Award •1996 Resident Research Award, New York Academy of Medicine •1996 Distinguished House Staff Award, Society of The New York-Presbyterian Hospital •1996 Resident Teaching Award, Cornell Medical College, Class of 1996 •1996 Heed Fellowship, Harvard Medical School •1992 Franklyn Ellenbogen Prize in Hematology and Oncology, Weill Medical College, Cornell •1989 Dean William Mecklenburg Polk Memorial Prize, Weill Medical College, Cornell •1989 Howard Hughes Fellow, Weill Medical College, Cornell



Review and Case Discussion: Aggressive Posterior Retinopathy of Prematurity - Ryan K. Wong, BA, Scott M. Warden, MD, Thomas C. Lee, MD, R.V. Paul Chan, MD

A Phase II Trial of Carboplatin for Intraocular Retinoblastoma Dunkel IJ, Lee TC, Shi W, Beaverson KL, Novetsky D, Lyden D, Finlay JL, McCormick B, Abramson DH

Cell Cycle-Specific and Cell Type-Specific Expression of Rb in the Developing Human Retina Lee TC, Almeida D, Claros N, Abramson DH, Cobrinik D

Rb Induces a Proliferative Arrest and Curtails Brn-2 Expression in Retinoblastoma Cells Cobrinik D, Francis RO, Abramson DH, Lee TC

Small Molecule Inhibition of HDM2 Leads to p53-Mediated Cell Death in Retinoblastoma Cells Elison JR, Cobrinik D, Claros N, Abramson DH, Lee TC.


Research Summary

Surgical and medical treatment of retinopathy of prematurity, retinoblastoma, retinal detachment, Stickler's Syndrome, Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy, Coats' Disease, PHPV, trauma and other challenging pediatric retinal disorders.

CHLA Medical Group: Encino Ophthalmology
5400 Balboa Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91316
United States