Dr. Alon Kahana

Alon Kahana, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Laboratory of Orbital Development and Disease
KEC 245
Phone: 734-615-0435

Academic Office: 734-763-8097

Administrative Contact

Phone: 734-763-8097


Dr. Kahana earned a doctorate in molecular genetics and cell biology and his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed a residency in ophthalmology and a dual fellowship in oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgery and facial cosmetic surgery at the University of Wisconsin. He completed postdoctoral research training at the University of Chicago and at the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Kahana’s research interests include the biology, developmental genetics and regeneration of extraocular muscles and neural crest-derived stem cells in and around the eye. His goal is to utilize clinically driven basic science research to develop novel diagnostic and treatment modalities for diseases such as cancer, thyroid-related eye disease, strabismic disorders, and craniofacial syndromes. In addition, he has an active surgical practice focusing on eyelid, lacrimal, and orbital disorders in both adults and children.

He has mentored students, residents and postdoctoral fellows; has published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed publications and several book chapters; and serves as editor for the Orbital Disease section of Byron Smith's Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the definitive textbook in the field.

Areas of Interest

Research Areas

Research Summary

The Kahana Lab studies biology at the intersection of embryology, adult tissue regeneration, stem cells and cancer. As a practicing ophthalmologist and oculoplastic orbital surgeon, Dr. Kahana’s research is focused on disorders of the orbit and visual pathway, but with broad application to a variety of diseases and tissue types. The lab is particularly interested in projects that would lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine to cure blinding conditions and cancer.

Our research is based on the hypothesis that disease is a manifestation of normal embryologic processes that become dysregulated -- "wrong place, wrong time." We further hypothesize that a mechanistic understanding of these biological process during embryogenesis and adult regeneration will provide key insights into disease pathogenesis. We focus on the roles of neural crest-derived and muscle-derived progenitor stem cells in ophthalmic disease and in tissue regeneration, and are primarily interested in the intersecting biological processes that underlie embryogenesis, oncogenesis and adult tissue regeneration in the eye and orbit.

Clinical Interests

Orbital diseases, including tumors, cancer, and thyroid-related eye disease, as well as small-incision facial cosmetic surgery and complex eyelid reconstructive surgery. Dr. Kahana helps both adults and children with oculofacial disorders.

Subspecialty: Oculoplastics

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Honors & Awards


  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee, ASOPRS
  • Chair-Elect, Thesis Committee, ASOPRS
  • Editorial board, Ocular Surgery News Oculoplastic Surgery Section (2013-present)
  • FDA Approval, Investigational Device Exemption for the Slit Stent II Lacrimal Stent
  • Grant, Retinoid-Regulated Expression of Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines in Orbital Tissues: A Potential Common Denominator in Orbital Inflammatory Syndromes, Alliance for Vision Research
  • Invited Speaker, Adrian and Gladys Drouhilet Lecture, University of Texas-Houston, Ophthalmology Department
  • Invited Speaker, Drs. Frank Nesi and Evan Black Lectureship in Oculoplastics, Kresge Eye Institute, Beaumont Hospital
  • Mentor, Curtis Heisel, Molecular Studies of Orbital Inflammation and its Regulation by Retinoic Acid, RPB Medical Student Award
  • Organizer and presenter, 1st annual meeting, North American Society of Orbital Surgeons
  • President, North American Society of Academic Orbital Surgeons (NASAOS)


  • Best Doctors in America
  • Achievement Award, American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Editorial Board, Ocular Surgery News
  • President, North American Society of Academic Orbital Surgeons
  • Study Section, Career Development Awards, National Institutes of Health
  • Keynote Speaker Oculoplastic Surgery, Canadian Ophthalmology Society Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada
  • Alfred Taubman Scholar


  • Graduate School - Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, 1998
  • Medical School - University of Chicago, 2001
  • Residency - Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin, 2005
  • Fellowships
    • Oculofacial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Wisconsin, 2007
    • Facial Cosmetic Surgery, University of Wisconsin, 2007

Published Articles or Reviews

Web Sites