Dr. Chao graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in Biological Sciences and went on to complete both her MD and PhD in Neuroscience at the Yale University School of Medicine. Upon completion of her internal medicine internship at Stanford Hospital, she continued her residency and vitreoretinal fellowship at the Doheny Eye Institute/USC. During this time, she engaged in a research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in developmental and stem cell biology. She is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and a fellowship trained vitreoretinal surgeon. Since joining the faculty at the University of Washington in 2009, the focus of Dr. Chao’s research has been to use the techniques of stem cell biology to study inherited retinal degenerative diseases. She developed a ‘degeneration in a dish’ model for diseases similar to AMD, and together with her colleagues, successfully identified unique and altered metabolic pathways in patient-specific RPE cells. These pathways may serve as potential targets for the treatment of diseases relevant to age-related macular degeneration. Dr. Chao is also Principal Investigator of a Phase 1/2a study of a stem cell-derived RPE monolayer for the treatment of non-neovascular AMD. She has published numerous papers in leading peer-reviewed journals, including in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eLife, Ophthalmology, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Journal of Biological Chemistry. Dr. Chao’s work has been funded by the National Eye Institute, Research to Prevent Blindness, Alcon Research Institute, and the BrightFocus Foundation.
University of Washington