Sun Young Lee, MD, PhD

Title(s)Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Physiology & Neuroscience
SchoolKeck School of Medicine of Usc
Address1537 Norfolk St.
Health Sciences Campus
Los Angeles CA 90033
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0003-3771-8799 Additional info
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    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse Education and Training
    Pusan National University, S. Korea MD1999
    University of Ulsan, S. Korea PhD2007
    Asan Medical Center , S. KoreaOphthalmology Residency/Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship 2007
    Johns Hopkins University, MD Post-doctoral Fellowship 2010
    University of Southern California, CAOphthalmology Residency2016
    University of Iowa , IAVitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship2018
    Collapse Awards and Honors
    ARVO Foundation 2009Eye Research/Retina Research Foundation Travel Grant
    Los Angeles Ophthalmology Society (LASO)2016Dr. Henry & Lilian Nesburn Award for Best Research by a Resident
    Women in Retina (WinR) Mentoring Program 2016Travel Grant
    Fellowship Research Award2017The Retina Society
    Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF)2019Clinician Scientist Development Award
    Women in Retin (WinR)/ American Society of Retina Specialist (ASRS)2021Mina Chung Research Award
    Alcon Research Institute 2023Young Investigator Award

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    Dr. Lee is a board-certified retina surgeon and clinician-scientist with extensive experience in managing complex vitreoretinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), inherited retinal diseases (IRD), and diabetic retinopathy (DR). As an already fully trained vitreoretinal surgeon from South Korea, she completed her training again at top, nationally-ranked ophthalmology programs in the United States, including the Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California, and University of Iowa for postdoctoral fellowship, ophthalmology residency, and vitreoretinal surgery fellowship training respectively.
    Expanding upon Dr. Lee's expertise in retinal drug discovery, pre-clinical experimental design, and retinal cell biology and biochemistry, Dr. Lee's research program, funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), currently focuses on studying the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs), especially small EV (freuqnetly called as exosomes), in retinal diseases and developing innovative EV-based intraocular therapies. EV-based intraocular therapy holds a promise for next generation drug delivery, gene therapy and stem cell therapy for retina diseases with limited or no treatment available.

    For more information on Dr. Lee’s work, visit
    Collapse In The News

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Extracellular vesicle-based intraocular therapy combined with active targeting of ocular neovascularization
    NIH/NEI R01EY034193Feb 1, 2024 - Jan 31, 2029
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Extracellular Vesicle Therapy for Diabetic Retinopathy
    NIH/NEI R21EY035425Sep 30, 2023 - Aug 31, 2025
    Role: Principal Investigator
    USC Alpha Clinic Network Expansion for Cell and Gene Therapies (PI: Buchanan, T)
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) IFFR4-13878Feb 1, 2023 - Jan 31, 2027
    Role: Vision Disorder Lead
    Exosome based intraocular therapy combined with active targeting of ocular neovascularization
    NIH/NEI R56EY034193Sep 30, 2022 - Sep 29, 2024
    Role: Principal Investigator
    USC Roski Eye K12 Clinician-Vision Scientist Training Program
    NIH/NEI K12EY028873Feb 1, 2022 - Jan 31, 2024
    Role: Scholar

    Collapse Featured Content 
    Collapse Twitter

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Polarized RPE Secretome Preserves Photoreceptors in Retinal Dystrophic RCS Rats. Cells. 2023 06 22; 12(13). Ahluwalia K, Martinez-Camarillo JC, Thomas BB, Naik A, Gonzalez-Calle A, Pollalis D, Lebkowski J, Lee SY, Mitra D, Louie SG, Humayun MS. PMID: 37443724; PMCID: PMC10340490.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    2. Fiji-Assisted Automatic Quantitative Volumetric Analysis of Choroidal Neovascularization in a Laser-Induced Choroidal Neovascularization Mouse Model. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2023 04 03; 12(4):10. Pollalis D, Nanda AV, Nair GKG, Lee SY. PMID: 37043336; PMCID: PMC10103716.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Animals
    3. Utility of No-Charge Panel Genetic Testing for Inherited Retinal Diseases in a Real-World Clinical Setting. J Vitreoretin Dis. 2022 Sep-Oct; 6(5):351-357. McClard CK, Pollalis D, Jamshidi F, Kingsley R, Lee SY. PMID: 36213299; PMCID: PMC9542391.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2  
    4. Intraocular RGD-Engineered Exosomes and Active Targeting of Choroidal Neovascularization (CNV). Cells. 2022 08 18; 11(16). Pollalis D, Kim D, Nair GKG, Kang C, Nanda AV, Lee SY. PMID: 36010651; PMCID: PMC9406786.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. Proteomic Insight into the Role of Exosomes in Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy Development. J Clin Med. 2022 May 11; 11(10). Nair GKG, Pollalis D, Wren JD, Georgescu C, Sjoelund V, Lee SY. PMID: 35628842; PMCID: PMC9143131.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3  
    6. Advanced Retina Implants. Ophthalmol Retina. 2022 10; 6(10):899-905. Humayun MS, Lee SY. PMID: 35436597.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    7. ENDOPHTHALMITIS AFTER TRANSCONJUNCTIVAL PARS PLANA VITRECTOMY: A 6-year Experience Without Prophylactic Intraoperative Subconjunctival Antibiotics. Retina. 2021 Mar 01; 41(3):531-537. LaGrow AL, Schatzman SN, Amayem OA, Bradford RH, Shah VA, Chen S, Lee SY. PMID: 32826794; PMCID: PMC7889285.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    8. Increased Glial Fibrillary Acid Protein and Vimentin in Vitreous Fluid as a Biomarker for Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020 05 11; 61(5):22. Lee SY, Surbeck JW, Drake M, Saunders A, Jin HD, Shah VA, Rajala RV. PMID: 32413125; PMCID: PMC7405623.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 11     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    9. Wide-Field Swept-Source OCT and Angiography in X-Linked Retinoschisis. Ophthalmol Retina. 2019 02; 3(2):178-185. Han IC, Whitmore SS, Critser DB, Lee SY, DeLuca AP, Daggett HT, Affatigato LM, Mullins RF, Tucker BA, Drack AV, Stone EM. PMID: 31014769.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 13     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    10. Choroidal Features of Acute Macular Neuroretinopathy via Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography and Correlation With Serial Multimodal Imaging. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017 11 01; 135(11):1177-1183. Lee SY, Cheng JL, Gehrs KM, Folk JC, Sohn EH, Russell SR, Guo Z, Abràmoff MD, Han IC. PMID: 28973538; PMCID: PMC5710376.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 26     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    11. Objectively quantifying walking ability in degenerative spinal disorder patients using sensor equipped smart shoes. Med Eng Phys. 2016 May; 38(5):442-9. Lee SI, Park E, Huang A, Mortazavi B, Garst JH, Jahanforouz N, Espinal M, Siero T, Pollack S, Afridi M, Daneshvar M, Ghias S, Lu DC, Sarrafzadeh M. PMID: 26970892; PMCID: PMC6470359.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 13     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    12. OPTICAL COHERENCE TOMOGRAPHY ANGIOGRAPHY OF RETINAL VENOUS OCCLUSION. Retina. 2015 Nov; 35(11):2323-31. Kashani AH, Lee SY, Moshfeghi A, Durbin MK, Puliafito CA. PMID: 26457395.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 78     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    13. Clinical and laboratory characteristics of ocular syphilis: a new face in the era of HIV co-infection. J Ophthalmic Inflamm Infect. 2015 Dec; 5(1):56. Lee SY, Cheng V, Rodger D, Rao N. PMID: 26297110; PMCID: PMC4546070.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 31  
    14. Drusen and RPE atrophy automated quantification by optical coherence tomography in an elderly population. Eye (Lond). 2015 Feb; 29(2):300. Diniz B, Rodger DC, Chavali VR, MacKay T, Lee SY, Stambolian D, Sadda SV. PMID: 25672510; PMCID: PMC4330299.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    
    15. Drusen and RPE atrophy automated quantification by optical coherence tomography in an elderly population. Eye (Lond). 2015 Feb; 29(2):272-9. Diniz B, Rodger DC, Chavali VR, MacKay T, Lee SY, Stambolian D, Sadda SV. PMID: 25376121; PMCID: PMC4330276.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 11     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    16. Effect of angle of incidence on macular thickness and volume measurements obtained by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Aug 07; 53(9):5287-91. Hariri A, Lee SY, Ruiz-Garcia H, Nittala MG, Heussen FM, Sadda SR. PMID: 22859741.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    17. Automated characterization of pigment epithelial detachment by optical coherence tomography. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Jan 20; 53(1):164-70. Lee SY, Stetson PF, Ruiz-Garcia H, Heussen FM, Sadda SR. PMID: 22159019.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 25     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    18. Overexpression of SOD in retina: need for increase in H2O2-detoxifying enzyme in same cellular compartment. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Oct 01; 51(7):1347-54. Usui S, Oveson BC, Iwase T, Lu L, Lee SY, Jo YJ, Wu Z, Choi EY, Samulski RJ, Campochiaro PA. PMID: 21736939; PMCID: PMC3163708.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 47     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    19. N-Acetylcysteine promotes long-term survival of cones in a model of retinitis pigmentosa. J Cell Physiol. 2011 Jul; 226(7):1843-9. Lee SY, Usui S, Zafar AB, Oveson BC, Jo YJ, Lu L, Masoudi S, Campochiaro PA. PMID: 21506115.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 59     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. Constituents of bile, bilirubin and TUDCA, protect against oxidative stress-induced retinal degeneration. J Neurochem. 2011 Jan; 116(1):144-53. Oveson BC, Iwase T, Hackett SF, Lee SY, Usui S, Sedlak TW, Snyder SH, Campochiaro PA, Sung JU. PMID: 21054389; PMCID: PMC4083853.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 58     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    21. Randomized, sham-controlled trial of dexamethasone intravitreal implant in patients with macular edema due to retinal vein occlusion. Ophthalmology. 2010 Jun; 117(6):1134-1146.e3. Haller JA, Bandello F, Belfort R, Blumenkranz MS, Gillies M, Heier J, Loewenstein A, Yoon YH, Jacques ML, Jiao J, Li XY, Whitcup SM, OZURDEX GENEVA Study Group. PMID: 20417567.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 330     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    22. Intravitreal bevacizumab alone versus in combination with photodynamic therapy for the treatment of neovascular maculopathy in patients aged 50 years or older: 1-year results of a prospective clinical study. Acta Ophthalmol. 2012 Feb; 90(1):61-7. Lim JY, Lee SY, Kim JG, Lee JY, Chung H, Yoon YH. PMID: 20337606.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 19     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    23. Rapid progression of subclinical age-related macular degeneration in the untreated fellow eye after intravitreal bevacizumab. Acta Ophthalmol. 2009 Sep; 87(6):685-7. Yoon YH, Kim JG, Chung H, Lee SY. PMID: 18705680.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    24. Ocular sarcoidosis in a Korean population. J Korean Med Sci. 2009 Jun; 24(3):413-9. Lee SY, Lee HG, Kim DS, Kim JG, Chung H, Yoon YH. PMID: 19543502; PMCID: PMC2698185.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    25. NADPH oxidase plays a central role in cone cell death in retinitis pigmentosa. J Neurochem. 2009 Aug; 110(3):1028-37. Usui S, Oveson BC, Lee SY, Jo YJ, Yoshida T, Miki A, Miki K, Iwase T, Lu L, Campochiaro PA. PMID: 19493169; PMCID: PMC2833098.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 69     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    26. Increased expression of catalase and superoxide dismutase 2 reduces cone cell death in retinitis pigmentosa. Mol Ther. 2009 May; 17(5):778-86. Usui S, Komeima K, Lee SY, Jo YJ, Ueno S, Rogers BS, Wu Z, Shen J, Lu L, Oveson BC, Rabinovitch PS, Campochiaro PA. PMID: 19293779; PMCID: PMC2803613.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 63     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    27. Bilateral toxoplasma retinochoroiditis simulating cytomegalovirus retinitis in an allogeneic bone marrow transplant patient. Korean J Ophthalmol. 2008 Sep; 22(3):197-200. Chung H, Kim JG, Choi SH, Lee SY, Yoon YH. PMID: 18784451; PMCID: PMC2629896.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    28. Inhibitory effect of bevacizumab on the angiogenesis and growth of retinoblastoma. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul; 126(7):953-8. Lee SY, Kim DK, Cho JH, Koh JY, Yoon YH. PMID: 18625942.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 18     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    29. The therapeutic effects of bevacizumab in patients with polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy. Korean J Ophthalmol. 2008 Jun; 22(2):92-9. Lee SY, Kim JG, Joe SG, Chung H, Yoon YH. PMID: 18612226; PMCID: PMC2629943.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 23     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    30. Optical coherence tomography evaluation of detached macula from rhegmatogenous retinal detachment and central serous chorioretinopathy. Am J Ophthalmol. 2008 Jun; 145(6):1071-1076. Lee SY, Joe SG, Kim JG, Chung H, Yoon YH. PMID: 18374302.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 11     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    31. Efficacy of intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide for eyes with postvitrectomy diabetic vitreous hemorrhage. Korean J Ophthalmol. 2007 Dec; 21(4):208-12. Lee SY, Lee HG, Chung HW, Yoon YH, Kim JG. PMID: 18063884; PMCID: PMC2629885.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    32. Clinical and OCT features in spontaneously progressive idiopathic choriovitreal neovascularization. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging. 2007 Mar-Apr; 38(2):151-3. Lee SY, Kwon YH, Chung H, Kim SK, Yoon YH, Kim JG. PMID: 17396697.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    33. Intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide in eyes with recurrent postvitrectomy diabetic vitreous hemorrhage. Am J Ophthalmol. 2006 Sep; 142(3):501-3. Lee SY, Yoon YH, Lee HG, Chung H, Kim JG. PMID: 16935603.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    34. Mitomycin C, ceramide, and 5-fluorouracil inhibit corneal haze and apoptosis after PRK. Cornea. 2006 Jan; 25(1):55-60. Kim TI, Lee SY, Pak JH, Tchah H, Kook MS. PMID: 16331043.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    35. Mitomycin C-induced reduction of keratocytes and fibroblasts after photorefractive keratectomy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Sep; 45(9):2978-84. Kim TI, Pak JH, Lee SY, Tchah H. PMID: 15326110.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    36. Pars plana vitrectomy for exuduative retinal detachment in coats-type retinitis pigmentosa. Retina. 2004 Jun; 24(3):450-2. Lee SY, Yoon YH. PMID: 15187669.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    Translation:Humans
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