Aaron Nagiel

The Vision Center
Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
USC Roski Eye Institute
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California

Aaron   Nagiel

Research Images

Section of a human retinal organoid with rod (red) and cone (green) photoreceptors aligned along the photoreceptor layer.Cones (green) and depolarizing bipolar cells (red) align along the photoreceptor layer and inner nuclear layers, respectively.Bipolar cell dendrites (green) coexist with horizontal cells and their processes (red) along the outer plexiform layer.High-magnification of a cone (blue) to depolarizing bipolar cell (green) synapse with the ribbon synapse protein bassoon labeled in red.

Research Overview

The development and maintenance of specific synaptic connections between retinal neurons is critical to its function. However, our understanding of neural circuit formation in the human retina remains limited. Within the last 10 years it has become possible to grow 3-dimensional, multi-layered retinal organoids derived from human stem cells. This advance permits the study of human retinal development and the establishment of synaptic connectivity. Our goal is to elucidate mechanisms underlying synapse formation and specificity in the first synapse of the human visual system. Access to patient-derived organoids allows us to understand this process in the disease state and following novel treatment paradigms such as gene therapy and cell-based therapy. We utilize a variety of techniques including live fluorescent imaging, electrophysiology, and gene editing in stem cell-derived human retinal organoids. The long-term goal of this work is to understand how synaptic connections are established and maintained in the human nervous system.

Contact Information

Mailing Address 4650 Sunset Blvd, MS#88
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Office Location
Office Phone (323) 361-4510
Lab Location
Lab Phone
Office Location


  • Undergraduate:
  • Harvard College (AB)
  • Medical School:
  • Weill Cornell Medical College (MD)
  • Graduate School
  • The Rockefeller University (PhD; Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience)
  • Residency and Fellowship:
  • Stein Eye Institute/ UCLA

Selected Publications

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