Donald Bren Professor
Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Member of the National Academy of Medicine
Irving H. Leopold Chair of Ophthalmology, Distinguished Professor,
School of Medicine
Ph.D., Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland, 1986, Biochemistry
University of California, Irvine
Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility
829 Health Sciences Rd.
Mail Code: 4375
Irvine, CA 92697
Genome edition, vision, retinal diseases, signal transduction, GPCRs, structural biology
1997-2005 Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
1997-2005 Professor (Adjunct) of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
1998-2005 Professor (Joint) of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
1999-2005 E.K. Bishop Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of
Washington, Seattle, WA.
2005-2018 John H. Hord Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology, Case
Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.
The light-sensing apparatus of the eye is found within the rods and cones—two types of specialized cells located in the posterior of the retina. Of the two types of receptors, rod cells exhibit greater light sensitivity (lower threshold) and a slower reaction time. Cone cells, on the other hand, respond rapidly, and provide greater discrimination of temporal, spatial, and spectral detail.
Kris Palczewski’ s laboratory is focused on the fundamental process of vision taking place in rod and cone photoreceptors of the retina and the adjacent pigment epithelium and is making essential discoveries about the chemistry and biology of visual phototransduction and chromophore recycling (visual cycle). The lab studies inherited retinal diseases in mouse models that recapitulate human blinding disorders, promoting the innovation of potential treatments for several of these conditions. To understand these processes, the Palczewski team determines the three-dimensional structures of proteins involved in vision using direct in vivo visualization of higher-order macromolecular and cellular structures involved in photoreceptor function. They are developing a novel class of small molecules that may prevent or arrest inherited retinal diseases as well as age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly. In a new frontier, the Palczewski lab is advancing the therapeutic potential of genome editing for the treatment of inherited retinal diseases and, by extension, other inherited blinding diseases. Thus, a combination of approaches in chemistry, cell biology, structural biology, and genetics are focused on improving our understanding of the visual processes as a prelude to development of novel therapeutic strategies aimed at preserving visual function.
1996 – Cogan Award, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
2011 – Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
2014 – Friedenwald Award from The Association for Research in Vision and
2014 – Beckman - Argyros Award in Vision Research
2015 – Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAU)(foreign member)
2018 – Paul Kayser International Award for Retina Research from Retina Research
Foundation (from the International Society for Eye Research)
2022 – The Goodman and Gilman Award in Receptor Pharmacology from American
Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Krzysztof Palczewski is a distinguished biochemical pharmacologist and molecular biologist, known particularly for seminal multidisciplinary scientific contributions to the biology and chemistry of vertebrate vision and therapy of retinal diseases. His laboratory is the best known for solving the structures of different forms of rhodopsin, a prototype for G protein-coupled receptors that comprise the largest and most diverse family of human drug targets, and other important proteins of the visual system. Moreover, his team developed high-resolution imaging with two-photon excitation that impacted non-invasive in vivo monitoring of real-time visual function. Palczewski, a US citizen, was born in Poland. He achieved M.S. (chemistry) degrees at the University of Wroclaw, and Ph.D. (biochemistry) Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland. He rose through the faculty ranks in Ophthalmology and Pharmacology at University of Washington, Seattle before serving as Chair of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. Currently he is a Donald Bren Professor and Irving H. Leopold Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, Irvine, serving as Director of the Center for Translational Vision Research. He has received numerous prestigious international awards and is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.
07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024
The complex role of phosphodiesterase 6 in rod photoreceptor health and function
08/01/1992 - 12/31/2025
Retinoids in vision
PI Vladimir Kefalov; Role: Sub-award PI
05/01/2020 - 04/30/2024
Opsin signaling in mammalian rod photoreceptors.
04/01/2022 - 03/31/2027
Visual Sciences Training Program (VSTP)
2019 – The National Academy of Medicine (NAM)(member)
2022 – The National Academy of Sciences (NAS)(member)
UCI SOM Center for Translational Vision Research