Zhuo-Hua Pan

Zhuo-Hua Pan

Zhuo-Hua Pan

Position Title

Professor Scientific Director of the Ligon Research Center of Vision, Kresge Eye Institute, WSU SOM


Dr. Pan’s current research is mainly focused on the development of optogenetic approaches to cure blindness caused by retinal degeneration. The optogenetic strategy utilizes optogenetic tools to convert surviving inner retinal neurons to photosensitive cells after photoreceptor cell death. Using rAAV vectors to express a microbial rhodopsin, channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), Dr. Pan’s group first demonstrated the feasibility of this strategy in animal models with retinal degeneration. The optogenetic gene therapy developed in Dr. Pan’s laboratory is currently in clinical trials. Dr. Pan’s ongoing research aims at further improving the optogenetic technologies for vision restoration.

Dr. Pan teaches Medical Neuroscience course, which is part of the Year 1 Medical School curriculum. In addition, he is Course Director of Biology of the Eye (ANA 6050, 7055, and BIO 6055, 7055).



  •  Faculty Research Excellence Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 2001.
  • Career Development Chair Award, Wayne State University, 2004.
  • Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, Wayne State University, 2007.
  • Visionary Award, Hope for Vision, 2009.
  • Edward T. and Ellen K. Dryer Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology and Kresge Eye Institute, Wayne State University, 2011.
  • Public presentation on “Optogenetics” at Dahlem Conference, Berline, Germany, 2012.
  • Gordon Research Conference; Session Chair on “Clinical applications of optogenetics”, Barga, Italy, 2014.
  • International Society for Eye Research (ISER) Biennial Meeting; Session Chair on “Optogenetics for vision restoration”, San Francisco, CA, 2014.
  • Open Innovations Forum and Technology Show; Open Interview on “The Future of gene therapy”, Moscow, Russia, 2015.
  • Key-note speaker at International Medical Students’ Conference: Optogenetic gene therapy for vision restoration, Mangalore, India, 2017


  • 1978-1982 B.S., University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei, China.
  • 1982-1984 M.S., Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academic of Science, Beijing, China.
  • 1986-1990 Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.
  • 1990-1991 Postdoc., State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.


Faculty Appointments

Professional Appointments

  • 1984-1986 Instructor, Life Science Laboratory, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
  • 1991-1997 Instructor, Department of Neurology, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
  • 1998-1999 Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
  • 1999-2003 Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine.
  • 2003-2007 Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine.
  • 2007-2011 Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine.
  • 2011-pre Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences; Scientific Director of the Ligon Research Center of Vision, Kresge Eye Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine.


Links of Interest

Kresge Eye Institute


  • Pan, Z.-H. Differential expression of high- and two types of low-voltage-activated calcium currents in rod and cone bipolar cells of the rat retina. J. Neurophysiol. 83:513-527, 2000.
  • Pan, Z.-H. and Hu, H.-J. Voltage-dependent Na+ currents in mammalian retinal cone bipolar cells. J. Neurophysiol. 84:2564-2571, 2000.
  • Pan, Z.-H., Hu, H.-J., Perring, P., and Andrade, R. T-type Ca2+ channels mediate neurotransmitter release in retinal bipolar cells. Neuron 32:89-98, 2001
  • Cui, J., Ma, Y.-P., Lipton, S.A., Pan Z.-H. Glycine receptors and glycinergic synaptic input at the axon terminals of mammalian retinal rod bipolar cells. J. Physiol. 553:895-909, 2003.
  • Bi, A., Cui, J., Ma, Y.-P., Olshevskaya, E., Pu, M., Dizhoor, A.M., and Pan Z.-H. Ectopic expression of a microbial-type rhodopsin restores visual responses in mice with photoreceptor degeneration. Neuron 50:23-33, 2006.
  • Ivanova, E, Pan, Z.-H. Evaluation of virus mediated long-term expression of channelrhodopsin-2 in the mouse retina. Mol. Vision 15:1680-1689, 2009.
  • Zhang, Y., Ivanova, E., Bi, A., and Pan, Z.-H. Ectopic expression of multiple microbial rhodopsins restores ON and OFF light responses in the retina after photoreceptor degeneration. J. Neurosci. 29:9186-96, 2009.
  • Ivanova, E., Hwang, G.-S., Pan, Z.-H., and Troilo, D. Evaluation of AAV-mediated expression of chop2-GFP in the marmoset retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 51:5288-5296, 2010.
  • Wu, C., Ivanova, E., Cui, J., Lu Q. and Pan. Z.-H. Action potential generation at an AIS-like process in the axonless retinal AII amacrine cell. J. Neurosci. 31:14654-14659, 2011.
  • Lu, Q., Ivanova, E., Ganjawala, H. T., and Pan, Z.-H. Cre-mediated recombination efficiency and transgene expression patterns of three retinal bipolar cell-expressing Cre transgenic mouse lines. Mol. Vision, 19:1310-1320, 2013
  • Wu, C., Ivanova, E., Zhang, Y., Pan, Z.-H. AAV-mediated subcellular targeting of optogenetic tools in retinal ganglion cells. PloS One, 8(6):e66332, 2013.
  • Pan, Z.-H., Ganjawala, T.H., Lu, Q., Ivanova, E., and Zhang, Z. ChR2 mutants at L132 and T159 with improved operational light sensitivity fo
    r vision restoration. PloS One, 9(6):e98924, 2014.
  • Pan, Z.-H., Lu, Q., Bi, A., Dizhoor, A.M., and Abrams, G.W. Optogenetic approaches to restoring vision. Ann. Rev. Vision Sci. 1:185-210, 2015.
  • Lu, Q., Ganjawala, H.T., Ivanova, E., Cheng , J.G., Troilo, D., and Pan, Z.-H. AAV-mediated transduction and targeting of retinal bipolar cells with improved mGluR6 promoters in rodents and primates. Gene Therapy, 23:680-9, 2016.

PubMed Link

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