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Clinical Director

Richard Lee, M.D., Ph.D.

Richard Lee, M.D., Ph.D.

Richard Lee joined the National Eye Institute as Clinical Director in December 2023 from London, England where he held leadership positions at the UK’s premier centers for ophthalmic care and vision science. His research spans laboratory studies through to clinical trials, primarily in the fields of immunology, inflammatory eye diseases and immune therapies and he has helped raise more than $100 million in personal and institutional grant awards for vision research. Most recently, he has worked as part of an international team to identify rare populations of bacteria inside the healthy eye, which was previously thought to be sterile. This led to the discovery that a blinding genetic eye condition may be caused by bacteria from the gut and is potentially treatable with antibiotics, a finding that has implications for the understanding and treatment of other sight-threatening diseases including age-related macular degeneration.

He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed original research articles, including in some of the most prestigious journals in ophthalmology, medicine, immunology, and general science, and he holds patents on novel technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases. As a passionate advocate for Team Science his work is notable for its underpinning institutional partnerships and multidisciplinary contributors, often incorporating a range of medical specialties to solve a common underlying problem. He has a long-established association with the NIH and from 2012 to 2018 his research group was officially partnered with NEI’s intramural Laboratory of Immunology.

Dr. Lee has broad experience overseeing experimental medicine studies, including for first-in-man gene and cell therapies, alongside which he has led regional and national specialist services for patients with uveitis. Administratively, he has executive-level experience managing large research teams and portfolios that extend beyond his own area of clinical and research expertise, including for data science and artificial intelligence. His wider contributions to the global vision community further include serving on the committees of a range of eye research organizations, including the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. He has also supported the work of a number medical and eye charities, most recently as a Trustee of Sight Research UK.

Dr. Lee brings a wealth of research, clinical and administrative experience to the National Eye Institute, where together with the entire leadership team he is working to deliver an ambitious program of translational and clinical research for the benefit of the American people.

Last updated: February 26, 2024