Simon John, PhD

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Academic Appointments

  • Robert L. Burch III Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences (in Ophthalmology)
Simon John, PhD

Simon W. M. John, PhD is the Robert L. Burch III Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences at the Department of Ophthalmology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a Member of the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Jackson Laboratory, Adjunct Professor in the Genetics Program at Tufts University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and an Affiliate of the New York Genome Center.

Dr. John graduated with high honors in Zoology and Genetics, from University College Cardiff, Wales. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology and Human Genetics at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. His Ph.D. investigated the molecular biology and population genetics of phenylketonuria under the mentorship of the eminent human geneticists Dr. Rima Rozen and Dr. Charles Scriver.

To gain deeper expertise in common, complex diseases and their experimental dissection using animal models, Dr. John next conducted his postdoctoral training studying essential hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease. His postdoctoral training was at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA under the mentorship of Nobel Laureate Dr. Oliver Smithies. Dr. John next accepted his first independent position as Assistant Professor at The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine. At this time, Dr. John switched his attention to ocular diseases and glaucoma, applying his strengths in human genetics, animal models and physiology to longstanding questions and needs.

By combining his unique skills with bold experimentation, and by forging close collaboration with ophthalmologists, Dr. John pioneered the use of mice for glaucoma research - including adapting tools from the human clinic to mice and the development of novel tools and models. He made rapid progress, providing a wealth of new mechanistic information and being central in retooling and reinvigorating the field.

Honors and Awards

  • 1985 B.Sc. Magna Cum Laude
  • 1986-1989 Thomas and Elizabeth Williams Scholarship
  • 1989 Canadian Society of Clinical Investigation Student Award
  • 1995 Becton Dickinson Young Investigator Fellowship
  • 1997 Ruth Salta Junior Investigator Achievement Award
  • 1998 Ruth Salta Junior Investigator Achievement Award
  • 2004 Cogan Award - International award for important contributions to research in ophthalmology or visual science
  • 2004 Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize - International award for a groundbreaking body of work and most significant glaucoma paper in 2003; Modification of ocular defects in mouse developmental glaucoma models by tyrosinase. Science 299: 1578-1581
  • 2006 Global Glaucoma Award - Worldwide glaucoma award for a daring, breakthrough, creative, original body of work and, for most important glaucoma paper in 2005; High dose radiation with bone marrow transfer prevents neurodegeneration in an inherited glaucoma. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102: 4566-4571
  • 2008 Alcon Research Institute Award - An unrestricted award for outstanding contributions to ophthalmic research, and membership in the ARI (a select group of ocular researchers)
  • 2013 Bressler Vision Science Award - Distinguished, an international award for scientist and clinicians whose research and service produced important advancements in the understanding of vision loss, treatment of eye disease or the rehabilitation of persons with vision loss
  • 2013 Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize - International award for outstanding glaucoma paper in 2012; Radiation treatment inhibits monocyte entry into the optic nerve head and prevents neuronal damage in a mouse model of glaucoma. J Clin Invest 122(4):1246–1261
  • 2015 Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize - International award for most outstanding glaucoma paper in 2014; Schlemm's canal is a unique vessel with a combination of blood vascular and lymphatic phenotypes that forms by a novel developmental process. PLoS Biol12(7):e1001912.
  • 2020 The Sanford and Susan Greenberg Visionary Prize to End Blindness by 20/20 – one of 13 recipients honored for their pioneering contributions and advances in the fight to end blindness

    NIH Grants


      Oct 31 2019 - Oct 30 2022