Thomas Vincent Johnson III, M.D., Ph.D.

Headshot of Thomas Vincent Johnson III
  • Shelley and Allan Holt Rising Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology


Cataract Surgery, Cataracts, Glaucoma, Glaucoma Surgery, Ophthalmology more

Research Interests

Glaucoma; Optic Nerve Neurodegeneration and Neuroprotection; Stem Cell Transplantation; Retinal Ganglion Cell Regeneration more

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Main Phone

Outside of Maryland & Washington D.C.

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The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Appointment Phone: 410-955-6052
600 N. Wolfe Street
Wilmer Eye Institute
Baltimore, MD 21287
The Johns Hopkins Hospital - Google Maps


Thomas V. Johnson III, M.D., Ph.D. is a glaucoma specialist and the Shelley and Allan Holt Rising Professor of Ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute. He received his BA (summa cum laude) in Biological Sciences from Northwestern University in 2005.  As a Gates-Cambridge Scholar and an NIH-OxCam Scholar, he earned his PhD in Clinical Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2010.  He completed his medical training (AOA) at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2014 and served as an intern on the Johns Hopkins Osler Medical Service prior to completing his ophthalmology residency and glaucoma fellowship at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

His research interests are focused on understanding the pathophysiology of retinal and optic nerve neurodegenerative disorders, and on the development of neuroprotective and neuroregenerative therapies for these conditions.  His doctoral thesis work evaluated intraocular stem and progenitor cell transplantation as a possible neuroprotective therapy for glaucoma. His research contributions have been recognized with a World Glaucoma Association Award nomination, the National Eye Institute’s Scientific Director’s Award, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s Merck Innovative Ophthalmology Research Award.  He also founded and served as director of the Student Sight Savers Program, a program that provides vision screening services to low-income residents of Baltimore, and helps them obtain access to clinical ophthalmological care.

Presently, he is interested in the neurobiological processes that lead to retinal ganglion cell death and dysfunction in glaucoma and other optic neuropathies.  In particular, he seeks to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying axonal degeneration, dendrite retraction and afferent synapse loss, and cell body death in glaucoma.  His goal is to utilize knowledge of these processes to develop targeted neuroprotective strategies to slow or halt RGC death and preserve vision for patients with glaucoma.  He is also leading new investigations into the use of stem cell transplantation to achieve retinal ganglion cell placement, as a potential regenerative treatment for optic nerve disease, with a focus on anatomic incorporation of cell grafts, neurite growth and synapse formation, and electrophysiological retinal circuit integration. more


  • Shelley and Allan Holt Rising Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology

Departments / Divisions



  • MD; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2014)


  • Ophthalmology; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2018)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Ophthalmology (Ophthalmology) (2020)

Additional Training

  • Advanced Specialty Training Program, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - Glaucoma (2019)

Research & Publications


Lab Website: Johnson Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Zhang KY, Nagalingam A, Mary S, Aguzzi EA, Li W, Chetla N, Smith B, Paulaitis ME, Edwards MM, Quigley HA, Zack DJ, Johnson TV. Rare intercellular material transfer as a confound to interpreting inner retinal neuronal transplantation following internal limiting membrane disruptionStem Cell Rep. 2023. PMID: 37802075.

Soucy JR, Aguzzi EA, Cho J, Gilhooley MJ, Keuthan C, Luo Z, Monavarfeshani A, Saleem MA, Wang XW, Wohlschlegel J, The RReSTORe Consortium, Baranov P, Di Polo A, Fortune B, Gokoffski KK, Goldberg JL, Guido W, Kolodkin AL, Mason CA, Ou Y, Reh TA, Ross AG, Samuels BC, Welsbie D, Zack DJ, Johnson TV. Retinal ganglion cell repopulation for vision restoration in optic neuropathy: A roadmap from the RReSTORe ConsortiumMol Neurodegen. 2023. PMID:3775444.

Zhang KY, Tuffy C, Mertz JL, Quillen S, Wechsler L, Quigley HA, Zack DJ, Johnson TV. Role of the internal limiting membrane in structural engraftment and topographic spacing of transplanted human stem cell-derived retinal ganglion cellsStem Cell Reports. 2021; 16:149-67. PMID: 33382979.

Johnson TV, Calkins DJ, Fortune B, Goldberg JL, La Torre A, Lamba DA, Meyer JS, Reh TA, Wallace VA, Zack DJ, Baranov P. The importance of unambiguous cell origin determination in neuronal repopulation studiesiScience. 2023 Mar 9;26(4):106361. PMID: 37009209.

Johnson TV, DeKorver NW, Levasseur VA, Osborne A, Tassoni A, Lorber B, Heller JP, Villasmil R, Bull ND, Martin KR, Tomarev SI. Identification of retinal ganglion cell neuroprotection conferred by platelet-derived growth factor through analysis of the mesenchymal stem cell secretomeBrain. 2014 Feb;137(Pt 2):503-19. PMID: 24176979.

Activities & Honors


  • Artemis Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2021
  • Dr. David L. Epstein Award, ARVO, 2019
  • Tuggle Community Excellence Award, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2018
  • Heed Society Fellowship, Heed Society of Fellows, 2018
  • Innovative Ophthalmology Research Award, AFER/ARVO - Merck, 2015
  • David E Rogers Award, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2014
  • Stephen J Ryan Prize, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, 2014
  • NEI Scientific Director's Award, National Institutes of Health, 2009
  • NC3Rs Prize, National Centre for Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research, 2009
  • Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, Gates-Cambridge Trust, 2006
  • Imogen Rose Prize in Brain Repair, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, 2008
  • 2022 Douglas H Johnson Award, BrightFocus Foundation, Clarksburg, MD
  • 2022 40 under 40 list, selected to inaugural list, Ophthalmology Management. Doylestown, PA
  • 2023 Top-10 most impactful author of research involving applications of stem cells (1999-2022), Frontiers in Cell and Development Biology


  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

  • American Medical Association

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology

  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery

  • American Glaucoma Society

  • Society for Neuroscience

Professional Activities

  • Founder, Director, Faculty Mentor/Supervisor, Student Sight Savers Program - Johns Hopkins University
  • Chairman, Organizing Committee, RGC Repopulation, Stem Cell Transplantation and Optic Nerve Regeneration Consortium
  • Scientific Advisory Board Member, The Glaucoma Foundation
  • Editorial Board Member, Ophthalmology Science

Videos & Media

  • Prospects for Restoring Vision in Patients with Glaucoma: The Promise of Optic Nerve Regeneration

  • Dr Thomas V Johnson III, MD, PhD - Neuro-Protection & Neuro-Regeneration R&D For Optic Pathologies

  • Episode 22: Potential stem cell therapies ft. Dr. Tom Johnson

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Student-led Volunteer Group Gives Free Vision Screenings and Follow-up Care to Baltimore Residents, Johns Hopkins Medicine (Oct. 2021)

A Rift in the Retina May Help Repair the Optic Nerve, JHM Newsroom (Jan. 2021)

Home Monitoring of Eye Pressure Comes of Age, Johns Hopkins Clinical Connection

IOP increase consistent with dose after glaucoma medication washout, Helio (Jun. 2020)

Students Inspired to Save Sight, Wilmer (Summer 2020)

Moonshot: Collaborative Effort Targets Irreversible Blindness, Johns Hopkins Medicine (Apr. 2020)

Sight saving from a grassroots to a global level, Gates Cambridge (Jan. 2019)

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