Centers & Labs

RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration

Project Leader: Masayo Takahashi (M.D., Ph.D.)
Deputy Project Leader: Michiko MANDAI (M.D., Ph.D.)
Deputy Project Leader: Sunao SUGITA (M.D., Ph.D.)
Masayo  Takahashi(M.D., Ph.D.)

The retina has been called the "approachable part of the brain," owing to its relatively simple structure and its location near the body surface, and for these reasons it serves as a useful and experimentally amenable model of the central nervous system. Until very recently, it was thought that in adult mammals the retina was entirely incapable of regenerating, but we now know that at least new retinal neurons can be generated after being damaged. This has opened up new hope that the ability to regenerate neurons and even to reconstitute the neural network may be retained in the adult retina. We are now exploring the exciting prospect that, by transplanting cells from outside of the retina or by regeneration from intrinsic progenitor cells, it may one day be possible to restore lost function to damaged retinas.
Our research into retinal regeneration seeks to achieve clinical applications by developing methods for inducing stem cells or embryonic stem cells to differentiate into retinal neurons and pigment epithelial cells in sufficient quantities for use in the treatment of patients suffering from conditions in which such cells have been damaged or lost. We must also ensure that such cells establish viable grafts upon transplantation and induce the reconstitution of functional neural networks. We also hope to develop means of promoting true regeneration by activating endogenous stem cells to replace cells lost to trauma or disease and thus repair damaged tissues. Access to a broad spectrum of developmental biological research information will be key to the achievement of these goals, and we appreciate the opportunities for exchange that working in the environment provided by the RIKEN CDB.

Therapeutic applications cannot be developed from basic research alone; the clinical approach - a thorough understanding of the medical condition to be treated is equally important. For conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa, even the successful transplantation of cells in animal models may not necessarily be translatable to a human clinical therapy without an understanding of the underlying genetics and possible immunological involvement. Our goal is to study retinal regeneration based on both a strong foundation in basic research and solid clinical evidence.

Main Research Field


Related Research Fields

Medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy


  • retinal cell transplantation
  • gene diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa
  • development of regenerative medicine system
  • research of iPS cells derived from retinal degenerative disease patient
  • research of active hypometabolism (hibernation and torpor)

Selected Publications

  1. Mandai M, et al;
    "Autologous Induced Stem-Cell-Derived Retinal Cells for Macular Degeneration"
    N. Engl. J. Med 376(11):1038-1046 (2017)
  2. Mandai M, et al;
    "iPSC-derived retina transplants improve vision in rd1 end-stage retinal degeneration mice"
    Stem Cell Reports 8,69–83 (2017)
  3. Sugita S, et al;
    "Successful transplantation of retinal pigment epithelial cells from MHC homozygote iPS cells in MHC-matched models"
    Stem Cell Reports 7(4):635-648 (2016)
  4. Sugita S, et al;
    "Lack of T-cell response to iPS cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial cells from HLA homozygous donors"
    Stem Cell Reports 7(4):619-634 (2016)
  5. Shirai H, et al.:
    "Transplantation of human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal tissue in two primate models of retinal degeneration."
    PNAS U S A pii: 201512590. (2015)
  6. Assawachananont J, et al.:
    "Transplantation of Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived 3D Retinal Sheets into Retinal Degenerative Mice."
    Stem Cell Reports 2.662-74 (2014)
  7. Kamao H, et al.:
    "Characterization of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium cell sheets aiming for clinical application."
    Stem Cell Reports 2.205-18 (2014)
  8. Jin Z. B, et al.:
    "Modeling retinal degeneration using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells."
    PLoS One 6.e17084 (2011)
  9. Osakada F, et al.
    "Toward the generation of rod and cone photoreceptors from mouse, monkey and human embryonic stem cells."
    Nat Biotechnol 26.215-24 (2008)
  10. Osakada F, et al.:
    "Wnt signaling promotes regeneration in the retina of adult mammals."
    J Neurosci 27.4210-9 (2007)

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Masayo Takahashi
Project Leader

Core Members

Michiko Mandai
Deputy Project Leader
Sunao Sugita
Deputy Project Leader
Akiko Yoshida
Research Scientist
Yuuki Arai
Research Scientist
Chikako Morinaga
Research Scientist
Naoshi Koide
Research Scientist
Akishi Onishi
Research Scientist
Yuji Tanaka
Research Scientist
Takesi Matsuyama Hoyos
Research Scientist
Satoshi Nakadomari
Research Scientist
Tomohiro Masuda
Research Scientist
Genshiro Sunagawa
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Hung-Ya Tu
Visiting Researcher
Shinichiro Ito
Research Associate
So Goto
Junior Research Associate
Shota Fujii
Junior Research Associate
Cody Kime
International Program Associate
Michiru Matsumura
Technical Staff I
Chikako Yamada
Technical Staff I
Naoko Hayashi
Technical Staff II
Kyoko Iseki
Technical Staff II
Kanako Kawai
Technical Staff II
Noriko Sakai
Technical Staff II
Yumiko Shibata
Technical Staff II
Motoki Terada
Technical Staff II
Tomoyo Hashiguchi
Technical Staff II
Ayumi Hono
Technical Staff II
Shoko Fujino
Technical Staff II
Mitsuhiro Nishida
Technical Staff II
Junki Sho
Technical Staff II
Kazuko Tsujimoto
Technical Staff II
Midori Yamamoto
Technical Staff II
Kiyomi Ishikawa
Technical Staff II

Contact information

5F, RIKEN CDB Bldg.D, 2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku
Kobe, Hyogo
650-0047 Japan

Email: retinalab [at]

Related links

Recent research results