Kun-Che Chang, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Academic Affiliation

2021-Present   Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
2016-2020       Postdoctoral Scholar, Laboratory of Jeffrey Goldberg, Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University

Dr. Kun-Che Chang was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He obtained his B.S. in Life Science from National Dong Hwa University (Taiwan) in 2006 and his M.S. in Biotechnology from National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) in 2008. After working at National Taiwan University for 1 year, he transited to University of Minnesota, Dept. of Pharmacology as a research assistant from 2010 to 2011. He joined the Toxicology PhD program at University of Colorado and was mentored by Dr. J. Mark Petrash at Dept. of Ophthalmology from 2011 to 2015. His PhD thesis focuses on prevention of ocular inflammation. He joined Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg’s lab for his post-doctoral training at Dept. of Ophthalmology, Stanford University from 2016 to 2020, focusing on retinal development, axon regeneration and stem cell differentiation into retinal ganglion cell.

Dr. Chang joined the Dept. of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 as an assistant professor. His current research interests focus on the retinal ganglion cell development as well as gene and cell replacement therapies for glaucoma and optic neuropathy.

Education & Training

  • 2011-2015 University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, PhD in Toxicology
  • 2006-2008 National Tsing Hua University, MS in Biotechnology
  • 2002-2006 National Dong Hwa University, BS in Life Science

Representative Publications

Research Interest Summary

My research is aimed to restore vision loss, especially caused by glaucoma and optic neuropathy. I will investigate the regulatory mechanism of RGC differentiation and apply the findings to gene and stem cell therapies.

Research Interests

Glaucoma and other optic neuropathies lead to damage and eventual cell death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Once lost, RGCs are not replaced in humans or other mammals, resulting in irreversible blindness. Gene therapy via viral infection in retinas is the potential treatment for restoring degenerating cells and axons. Understanding regulatory mechanism of gene therapy in neuronal regeneration suggests a potent therapeutic 
strategy for vision restoration in optic neuropathies. 
On the other hand, transplantation of stem cell-derived RGCs could be a feasible approach to restore vision; however, it is not well understood how to promote RGC differentiation from stem cells (SCs). Thus, identifying the relevant signaling pathways that promote RGC specification will be necessary to generate donor RGCs that integrate and form functional connections within recipient retinas. To date, several protocols have been reported for RGC generation from human SCs, however, these protocols are labor intensive, require significant time in culture, and yield low efficiencies of RGC production. To overcome these issues, I will develop a rapid differentiation protocol combing with a 3D retinal organoid model in hESCs to investigate the relevant signaling and/or transcription factors in RGC fate specification.