Michael J. Young, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
Co-Director, Ocular Regenerative Medicine Institute

Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Associate Scientist
Director, Minda de Gunzburg Center for Retinal Regeneration


Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliations


Dr. Young studies the repair of the mature, diseased central nervous system. He is specifically interested in the degeneration that occurs in the retina during disease or injury. He is currently studying human retinal stem cells with the goal of transplanting these cells to the diseased eye to establish functional connectivity between donor retinal stem cells and the mature, diseased host retina. His research focuses on gene and protein expression, substrate specific differentiation, and retinal transplantation in mice and pigs.

His Story

Dr. Michael Young's laboratory studies the repair of the mature central nervous system, specifically after the degeneration that occurs in the retina during disease or injury. The laboratory has focused on the use of stem or progenitor cells, which they have isolated from a number of regions of the neuraxis of several different mammalian species.

During the last 10 years, work in the Young laboratory has established that neural stem or progenitor cells overcome the barrier to morphological integration present in the mature mammalian retina. The researchers have also demonstrated that neural stem cells are an inherently immune privileged tissue, and survive in conventional sites in allogeneic recipients. The laboratory has isolated stem cells from the mouse, pig, and human retina and have shown that such cells are capable of photoreceptor differentiation.

Dr. Young and his colleagues now aim to establish a novel stem cell therapy using retinal progenitor cells grafted to the mature, diseased host retina. This approach will allow them to make important steps toward their goal of functional restoration of vision.


Interphotoreceptor Matrix-Based Cell Delivery Vehicle for Retinal Regeneration

The Young laboratory is investigating new natural polymer scaffolds for the propagation and differentiation of retinal stem cells.

CEP-290 and Stem Cells

These studies are aimed at repairing the retina of CEP-290 patients using human retinal stem cells.

Human Retinal Stem Cells

This work involves the characterization of human retinal stem cells for use in clinical studies.

Inducers and Mimickers of GDNF Signaling for the Treatment of Retinal Disease

The Young laboratory is performing drug discovery work with the goal of finding inducers of the GDNF pathway. The goal is to develop a new therapy that rescues retinal neurons and prevents neovascularization.


Selected Publications

For a full list of publications, please see his CV.

  1. Kundu J, Michaelson A, Talbot K, Baranov P, Young MJ, Carrier RL. Decellularized retinal matrix: Natural platforms for human retinal progenitor cell culture. Acta Biomater. 2016 Feb; 31:61-70. PMID: 26621699.V
  2. Yao J, Ko CW, Baranov PY, Regatieri CV, Redenti S, Tucker BA, Mighty J, Tao SL, Young MJ. Enhanced differentiation and delivery of mouse retinal progenitor cells using a micropatterned biodegradable thin-film polycaprolactone scaffold. Tissue Eng Part A. 2015 Apr; 21(7-8):1247-60.
  3. Huang R, Baranov P, Lai K, Zhang X, Ge J, Young MJ. Functional and morphological analysis of the subretinal injection of human retinal progenitor cells under Cyclosporin A treatment. Mol Vis. 2014; 20:1271-80. PMID: 25352736; PMCID: PMC4168833.
  4. Baranov PY, Tucker BA, Young MJ. Low-oxygen culture conditions extend the multipotent properties of human retinal progenitor cells. Tissue Eng Part A. 2014 May; 20(9-10):1465-75.
  5. Liu Y, Wang R, Zarembinski TI, Doty N, Jiang C, Regatieri C, Zhang X, Young MJ. The application of hyaluronic acid hydrogels to retinal progenitor cell transplantation. Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Jan; 19(1-2):135-42.


Current Members of Dr. Michael Young’s Laboratory

Postdoctoral Fellows
Deept Singh, PhD
Pierre Colombe, PhD


More than 40 trainees have worked in Dr. Young’s laboratory.