Jennifer R. Chao M.D., Ph.D.

Jennifer R. Chao M.D., Ph.D.
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  • English
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Spanish


  • Eye care (ophthalmology)
  • Medical and surgical retina
  • Retinal degenerative diseases


Dr. Chao was born and raised in Santa Monica, California. She graduated with distinction from Stanford University and was awarded the Janet M. Glasgow Memorial Achievement Citation. She earned her M.D. and Ph.D. at the Yale University School of Medicine, earning her Ph.D. in neuroscience with a prominent neuroscientist, Eric Nestler. Upon completion of her internship at Stanford, she continued her residency and vitreoretinal fellowship at the Doheny Eye Institute/USC. During her residency and fellowship, she was awarded the Fight for Sight Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Research Grant and the Heed Foundation Fellowship. During that time, she also initiated a research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the laboratory of Marianne Bronner, a recognized world expert in developmental/stem cell biology.

Dr. Chao has been on the faculty at UW since 2009. Since joining the faculty, Dr. Chao has published papers and presented work at national meetings. She has also served as a peer-reviewer for several journals, including Ophthalmology and Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. When not involved in patient care, Dr. Chao has an active laboratory dedicated to the study of retinal degenerative disorders. Dr. Chao offers both medical and surgical treatments for vitreoretinal diseases. She has a particular interest in patients with retinal degenerations. She enjoys working with residents and fellows in clinic, in the operating room and in her lab.

She also enjoys speaking with community groups and sharing her knowledge of current advances in eye disease treatment. Undergraduates also participate in research in Dr. Chao’s lab. She is dedicated to bringing the highest quality of care to her patients by offering the most up-to-date diagnostic and treatment options to her patients. She enjoys partnering with her patients in their care, listening to them and keeping them informed of the latest in current research regarding challenging retinal diseases.

Patient Care Philosophy

My goal is to provide the most advanced and compassionate care to each of my patients with the goal of improving their quality of life.

Clinical Interests

Age-related macular degeneration; hereditary retinal degenerations (e.g. retinitis pigmentosa); retinal detachments and tears; diabetic retinopathy; macular holes, puckers and edema; myopic macular degeneration; central serous retinopathy; endophthalmitis; and retinal vascular occlusive disease.

Research Interests

Dr. Chao’s research group studies inherited retinal degenerations and examines potential treatment modalities. Specific projects include the generation of stem cells from persons with inherited retinal degenerations (called induced pluripotent stem cells or IPSCs), generating retinal cells from these IPSCs, and studying the "diseased" retinal cells in culture. Ultimately, the group is focused on discovering new drug therapeutics that could benefit those affected by inherited retinal degenerations.


Institution Credential Year
University of Southern California Fellowship
Yale University School of Medicine Ph.D 2002
Yale University School of Medicine Medical education 2003
Stanford University Medical Center Internship
Univ. of Southern Calif.-Doheny Eye Institute Residency
Degree Institution Year
MD Yale University School of Medicine 2003

Board Certifications

Certification Specialty Year
American Board of Ophthalmology Ophthalmology 2008