Nan-Kai Wang, MD, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences (in Ophthalmology)
Profile Headshot


Nan-Kai Wang, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences (in Ophthalmology). His research interest focuses on mitochondria function, which is involved in cellular metabolism and apoptosis. His overall research goal is to develop therapies for retinitis pigmentosa and retinal ganglion cell (RGC) degeneration through mitochondrial reprogramming.

Dr. Wang received his M.D. at National Taiwan University. After completing his residency in Ophthalmology and vitreoretinal fellowship at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, Dr. Wang was invited to join as a faculty member of the Vitreoretinal team in the same institute, where he established himself as an independent physician-scientist.

Dr. Wang first came to Columbia University as a postdoctoral fellow under Stephen H. Tsang, M.D., Ph.D. During his two-year fellowship (2007-2009), he became an expert in the field of genetics, inherited retinal dystrophies, mouse and human electrophysiology, and embryonic stem cells. Dr. Wang first reported functional rescue in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa using differentiated mouse embryonic stem cells before the era of induced pluripotent stem cells. He also discovered that macrophages, not retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), contribute to fundus autofluorescence (AF) in patients and mice with NR2E3 mutations, which significantly advanced our understanding of the origin of fundus AF in retina degeneration. Upon completing his fellowship with Dr. Tsang, he returned to Taiwan to earn his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at National Taiwan University. After obtaining his Ph.D., he worked as an independent physician-scientist, serving a high volume of patients with high myopia, inherited retinal dystrophy, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, and surgical and medical retinal diseases. He also conducted projects in genetics in hereditary retinal dystrophies, juvenile onset-diabetes, and myopia, funded by several grants in Taiwan. In recognition of his productivity and the importance of his work, Dr. Wang received an accelerated advancement to the rank of Associate Professor in Taiwan. On an international level, Dr. Wang has elected as active member of the Macula Society in 2014.

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences (in Ophthalmology)

Credentials & Experience

Honors & Awards

  • 2017 Alcon Best Paper Award, Gold Medal, Taiwan
  • 2014 Elected as Active Member of The Macula Society
  • 2012 COHK / HKOS Travel Grants 2012, Hong Kong, China
  • 2011 Alcon Best Paper Award, Taiwan
  • 2010 Travel grant from Hong Kong Vision Foundation Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress (APAO)/AAO joint meeting, Beijing, China.
  • 2010 MSD Best Paper Award, Taiwan
  • 2009 The ARVO Foundation for Eye Research/Retina Research Foundation/Joseph M. and Eula C. Lawrence Travel Scholarships in ARVO 2009


In clinical myopia research, Dr. Wang was the first to propose using choroidal thickness to classify myopic maculopathy in 2012. He found that macular choroidal thickness is a better indicator of dry type myopic maculopathy than refractive error and axial length. He also found that choroidal thickness, together with other spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) measurements and near-infrared re?ectance, could be employed clinically to predict the development of “lacquer cracks”, which are a crucial step before myopic choroidal neovascularization and patchy chorioretinal atrophy in patients with high myopia. In addition, he was the first to report “age-related staphyloma”, a novel disease entity characterized by decreasing choroid thickness, decreased ellipsoid zone reflectivity seen in SD-OCT scans, and lateral protrusions seen in 3D-MRI scans. Patients with these conditions tend to be older in their age; however, they do not fit the criteria for pathologic myopia with respect to excessive axial length or refractive error values.

In juvenile onset diabetes research, Dr. Wang was the principal investigator of Chang Gung Juvenile Diabetes Eye Study (CGJDES), a clinical cohort study that includes more than 400 patients with juvenile onset diabetes. From this CGJDES cohort study, he and his group identified several risk factors of developing retinopathy and nephropathy in patients with juvenile-onset type 1 diabetes (T1DM). Dr. Wang also established an “individualized risk-prediction” model to assist the screening of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) in T1DM. Specifically, he published the first study to use a nomogram to predict the risks of NPDR development in patients with T1DM based on “individual” diabetes onset age, duration, gender, and HbA1C. Recently, he found that higher HbA1C may reduce axial length elongation in myopic T1DM children from a comparison cohort study.

Dr. Wang has published over 130 peer-reviewed publications and is currently an editorial board member in Scientific Reports and Ophthalmic Genetics. He has authored seven book chapters in inherited retinal dystrophies, myopia, and surgical retina.

Dr. Wang’s laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since his recent transition back to the U.S. in 2017, Dr. Wang has expanded his research skill set to include genome engineering using CRISPR/Cas9. He is developing research programs using mouse models to study the role of mitochondria in inherited retinal dystrophies, which include a unique patient-specific Opa1 knock-in mouse model and conditional overexpression knock-in mouse models. His models may have significant utility in testing therapeutic strategies to preserve vision in inherited retinal dystrophies.



Aug 1 2020 – Jul 30 2025


Jul 1 2021 – Jun 30 2022

Selected Publications

Complete List of Published Work in My Bibliography:

Selected Peer-Reviewed Research Publications:

  1. Wang NK, Liu PK, Kong Y, Levi SR, Huang WC, Hsu CW, Wang HH, Chen N, Tseng YJ, Quinn PMJ, Tai MH, Lin CS, Tsang SH. 2021. Mouse Models of Achromatopsia in Addressing Temporal "Point of No Return" in Gene-Therapy. Int J Mol Sci. 22: 8069. PMID: 34360834; PMCID: PMC8347118
  2. Liu PK, Ryu J, Yeh LK, Chen KJ, Tsang SH, Liu L, Wang NK. 2021. A novel KCNV2 mutation in a patient taking hydroxychloroquine associated with cone dystrophy with supernormal rod response. Ophthalmic Genet. 42:458-463. PMID: 33960280
  3. Liu CF, Chen SC, Chen KJ, Liu L, Chen YP, Kang EY, Liu PK, Yeung L, Wu WC, Lai CC, Lo FS, Wang NK. 2021. Higher HbA1c May Reduce Axial Length Elongation in Myopic Children: A Comparison Cohort Study. Acta Diabetol. 58:779-786. PMID: 33587176
  4. Huang CY, Kang EY; Yeh LK; Wu AL; Liu PK; Huang IW; RyuJ; Liu L; Wu WC; Lai CC; Chen KJ; Wang NK. 2021. Predicting Visual Acuity in Bietti Crystalline Dystrophy: Evaluation of Image Parameters. BMC Ophthalmol. 21:68. PMID: 33541298; PMCID: PMC7860191
  5. Zhang L, Cui X, Han Y, Park KS, Gao X, Zhang X, Yuan Z, Hu Y, Hsu CW, Li X, Bassuk AG, Mahajan VB, Wang NK, Tsang SH. 2019. Hypoxic drive caused type 3 neovascularization in a preclinical model of exudative age-related macular degeneration. Hum Mol Genet. 28:3475-3485. PMID: 31518400; PMCID: PMC7275777
  6. Wang NK, Mahajan VB, Tsang SH. 2019. Therapeutic Window for Phosphodiesterase 6-Related Retinitis Pigmentosa. JAMA Ophthalmol. 137(6):679-680. PMID: 30998807
  7. Kang EY, Lo FS, Wang JP, Yeh LK, Wu AL, Tseng YJ, Yeh CT, Liu L, Chen KJ, Wu WC, Lai CC, Wang NK; Chang Gung Juvenile Diabetes Eye Study Group. 2018. Nomogram for prediction of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy in juvenile-onset type 1 diabetes: a cohort study in an Asian population. Sci Rep. 8:12164. PMID: 30111889; PMCID: PMC6093915
  8. Lin YH, Wang NK, Yeung L, Lai CC, Chuang LH. 2018. Juvenile open-angle Glaucoma associated with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy: a case report and literature review. BMC Ophthalmol. 18(1):323. PMID: 30558558; PMCID: PMC6296145
  9. Wu AL, Wang JP, Tseng YJ, Liu L, Kang YC, Chen KJ, Chao AN, Yeh LK, Chen TL, Hwang YS, Wu WC, Lai CC, Wang NK. 2018. Multimodal Imaging of Mosaic Retinopathy in Carriers of Hereditary X-linked Recessive Diseases. Retina. 38(5):1047-1057. PMID: 28376043
  10. Wang NK, Fu Y, Wang JP, Kang EY, Wu AL, Tseng YJ, Yeh LK, Chen KJ, Wu WC, Ho WJ, Lai CC. 2017. Peripheral Vascular Endothelial Dysfunction in Central Serous Chorioretinopathy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 58(11):4524-4529. PMID: 28877318
  11. Wang NK, Lai CC, Wang JP, Wu WC, Liu L, Yeh LK, Tseng HJ, Chang CJ, Lo FS; Chang Gung Juvenile Diabetes Eye Study Group. 2016. Risk factors associated with the development of retinopathy 10 yr after the diagnosis of juvenile-onset type 1 diabetes in Taiwan: a cohort study from the CGJDES. Pediatr Diabetes. 17(6):407-16. PMID: 26332951
  12. Wang NK, Wu YM, Wang JP, Liu L, Yeung L, Chen YP, Chen YH, Yeh LK, Wu WC, Chuang LH, Lai CC. 2016. Clinical Characteristics of Posterior Staphylomas in Myopic Eyes with Axial Length Shorter than 26.5 mm. Am J Ophthalmol. 162:180-190.e1. PMID: 26585213
  13. Wang NK, Liu L, Chen HM, Tsai Shawn, Chang TC, Tsai TH, Yang CM, Chao AN, Chen KJ, Kao LY, Yeung L, Yeh LK, Hwang YS, Wu WC, Lai CC. 2015. Clinical Presentations of X-Linked Retinoschisis in Taiwanese Patients Confirmed by Genetic Sequencing. Molecular Vision: 21:487-501. PMID: 25999676; PMCID: PMC4415592
  14. Wu WC, Lien R, Liao PJ, Wang NK, Chen YP, Chao AN, Chen KJ, Chen TL, Hwang YS, Lai CC. Serum Levels of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Related Factors After Intravitreous Bevacizumab Injection for Retinopathy of Prematurity. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015 Apr;133(4):391-7. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.5373. PubMed PMID: 25569026.
  15. Lai CC, Chen YP, Wang NK, Chuang LH, Liu L, Chen KJ, Hwang YS, Wu WC, Chen TL. 2015. Vitrectomy with Internal Limiting Membrane Repositioning and Autologous Blood for Macular Hole Retinal Detachment in Highly Myopic Eyes. Ophthalmology. 122(9):1889-98. PMID: 26143541
  16. Liu CF, Liu L, Lai CC, Chou CL, Yeh LK, Chen KJ, Chen YP, Wu WC, Chuang LH, Sun CC, Wang NK. 2014. Multimodal Imaging Including Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography and Confocal Near Infrared Reflectance for Characterization of Lacquer Cracks in Highly Myopic Eyes. Eye (Lond). 28(12):1437-45. PMID: 25233819; PMCID: PMC4268461
  17. Wang NK, Lai CC, Liu CH, Yeh LK, Chou CL, Kong J, Nagasaki T, Tsang SH, Chien CL. 2013. Origin of fundus hyperautofluorescent (AF) spots, and their role in retinal degeneration in a Mouse Model of Goldmann-Favre Syndrome. Dis Model Mech. 6(5):1113-22. PMID: 23828046; PMCID: PMC3759331
  18. Rao X, Wang NK, Chen YP, Hwang YS, Chuang LH, Liu IC, Chen KJ, Wu WC, Lai CC. 2013. Outcomes of Outpatient Fluid-Gas Exchange for Open Macular Hole After Vitrectomy. Am J Ophthalmol. 156(2):326-333.e1. PMID: 23688710
  19. Wang NK, Lai CC, Chou CL, Chen YP, Chuang LH, Chao AN, Tseng HJ, Chang CJ, Wu WC, Chen KJ, Tsang SH. 2013. Choroidal Thickness and Biometric Markers for the Screening of Lacquer Cracks in Patients with High Myopia. PLoS One. 8(1):e53660. PMID: 23349728; PMCID: PMC3551908
  20. Wang NK, Chuang LH, Lai CC, Chou CL, Chu HY, Yeung L, Chen YP, Chen KJ, Wu WC, Chen TL, Chao AN, Hwang YH. 2012. Multimodal Fundus Imaging in Fundus Albipunctatus with RDH5 Mutation: a Newly Identified Compound Heterozygous Mutation and Review of the Literature. Doc Ophthal. 125(1):51-62. PMID: 22669287
  21. Wu WC, Lin RI, Shih CP, Wang NK, Chen YP, Chao AN, Chen KJ, Chen TL, Hwang YS, Lai CC, Huang CY, Tsai S. 2012. Visual Acuity, Optical Components, and Macular Abnormalities in Patients with a History of Retinopathy of Prematurity. Ophthalmology. 119(9):1907-16. PMID: 22578258
  22. Wang NK, Lai CC, Chu HY, Chen YP, Chen KJ, Wu WC, Yeh LK, Chuang LH, Chen TL. 2012. Classification of Early Dry-Type Myopic Maculopathy with Macular Choroidal Thickness. Am J Ophthalmol. 153(4):669-677.e2. PMID: 22071232
  23. Tosi J, Davis RJ, Wang NK, Naumann M, Lin CS, Tsang SH. 2011. shRNA knockdown of guanylate cyclase 2e or cyclic nucleotide gated channel alpha 1 increases photoreceptor survival in a cGMP phosphodiesterase mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa. J Cell Mol Med. 15(8):1778-87. PMID: 20950332; PMCID: PMC3071858
  24. Tosi J#, Wang NK#, Zhao J, Chou CL, Kasanuki JM, Tsang SH, Nagasaki T. 2010. Rapid and Noninvasive Imaging of Retinal Ganglion Cells in Live Mouse Models of Glaucoma. Mol Imaging Biol 12(4):386-93. (#Co- first Author) PMID: 19937134; PMCID: PMC2889038
  25. Wang NK, Tosi J, Kasanuki JM, Chou CL, Kong J, Parmalee N, Wert KJ, Allikmets R, Lai CC, Chien CL, Nagasaki T, Lin CS, Tsang SH. 2010. Transplantation of Reprogrammed Embryonic Stem Cells Improves Visual Function in a Mouse Model for Retinitis Pigmentosa. Transplantation. 89(8):911-9. PMID: 20164818; PMCID: PMC2855750
  26. Braunstein A, Trief D, Wang NK, Chang S, Tsang SH. 2010. Vitamin A deficiency in New York City. Lancet. 376(9737):267. PMID: 20663549; PMCID: PMC2929009
  27. Wang NK, Fine HF, Chang S, Chou CL, Cella W, Tosi J, Lin CS, Nagasaki T, Tsang SH. 2009. Cellular Origin of Fundus Autofluorescence in Patients and Mice with Defective NR2E3 Gene. Br J Ophthalmol. 93(9):1234-40. PMID: 19429590; PMCID: PMC2742679
  28. Wang NK, Chen TL, Lai CC, KuoYH, ChaoAN, Wu WC, Chen KJ, Hwang YS, Chen YP, Liu L. 2009. Clinical Characteristics and Surgical Outcomes of Paediatric Retinal Detachment with Lens Disorders. J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus 46:160-167 PMID: 19496497
  29. Tosi J, Janisch KM, Wang NK, Kasanuki JM, Flynn JT, Lin CS, Tsang SH. 2009. Cellular and Molecular Origin of Circumpapillary Dysgenesis of the Pigment Epithelium. Ophthalmology. 116(5):971-80. PMID: 19410955; PMCID: PMC2717946
  30. Wang NK, Chen YP, Lai CC, Chen TL, Yang KJ, Kuo YH, Chao AN, Wu WC, Chen KJ, Hwang YS, Yeung L, Liu L. 2009. Pediatric Retinal Detachment: Comparison of High Myopia and Extreme Myopia. Br J Ophthalmol 93(5):650-5. PMID: 19098036
  31. Lima LH, Cella W, Greenstein VC, Wang NK, Busuioc M, Smith RT, Yannuzzi LA, Tsang SH. 2009. Structural Assessment of Hyperautofluorescent Ring in Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retina 29 (7):1025-1031. PMID: 19584660; PMCID: PMC2749567
  32. Davis R, Tosi J, Janisch K, Kasanuki J, Wang NK, Kong J, Tsui I, Cilluffo M, Woodruff M, Fain GL, Lin CS, Tsang S. 2008. Functional rescue of degenerating photoreceptors in mice homozygous for a hypomorphic cGMP phosphodiesterase 6 allele (Pde6bH620Q). Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci: 49(11):5067-76. PMID: 18658088; PMCID: PMC2715364
  33. Wang NK, Chen YP, Yeung L, Chen KJ, Chao AN, Kuo YH, Lee JS, Lai CC. 2007. Traumatic Pediatric Retinal Detachment Following Open Globe Injury. Ophthalmologica 221(4):255-263. PMID: 17579292
  34. Wang NK, Tsai CH, Chen YP, Yeung L, Wu WC, Chen TL, Lin KK, Lai CC. 2005. Pediatric Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment in East Asians. Ophthalmology 112(11):1890-1895.  PMID: 16271317