Russell N. Van Gelder M.D., Ph.D.

Russell N. Van Gelder M.D., Ph.D.

Specialties and Expertise

Eye care (ophthalmology), Uveitis & Ocular Inflammation


Eye Care Institute (Opthalmology)




Primary Location

Eye Institute at Harborview

908 Jefferson St., 7th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206.520.5000|Map It 

Eye Center at UWMC

1959 NE Pacific St., 3rd Floor, NN 300
Seattle, WA 98195
Phone: 206.744.2020|Map It 


Dr. Van Gelder was born and raised in and around New York City. He earned his bachelor's degree from Stanford University. He remained at Stanford for the M.D./Ph.D. program, earning his Ph.D. in neurosciences studying the molecular biology of circadian rhythms. Following internal medicine internship at Stanford, he completed his residency in ophthalmology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis and his medical retina and uveitis fellowship at the Barnes Retina Institute. Dr. Van Gelder remained on faculty at Washington University from 1999 until 2007.

His research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1999. His laboratory has been at the forefront of two fields, non-visual photoreception and pathogen detection in uveitis. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters, including papers in Science, Neuron, Nature Genetics, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He was appointed the Bernard Becker Professor of Ophthalmology at Washington University in 2006. Dr. Van Gelder has won numerous awards for his research, including the Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award, an NEI K08 Award, the Culpeper Foundation Clinician-Scientist Award, the inaugural Becker/RPB/AUPO Research Award, and the Translational Scientist Award of the Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation.

Since 2008, Dr. Van Gelder has been the Boyd K. Bucey Memorial Chair, professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Washington in Seattle. He is director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute and is adjunct professor of biological structure and of pathology. Nationally, he is a trustee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and serves as chair of the council. He is past president of the American Uveitis Society. He is a trustee of the Society of Heed Fellows and serves on the scientific advisory board for Foundation Fighting Blindness. Dr. Van Gelder is an active clinician-scientist and teacher. He sees patients with ocular inflammatory disease one day per week and divides his remaining time between his research, teaching and administrative duties.

Patient Care Philosophy

My goal is to give each patient the care I would give my family, to apply the best scientific evidence and most appropriate treatments, and to help the patient make the best medical decisions.

Personal Interests

Dr. Van Gelder's pastimes include hiking, backpacking, skiing, music and photography.

Clinical Interests

Uveitis, including iritis, pars planitis, retinitis, choroiditis and scleritis. Dr. Van Gelder is also interested in medical retinal disease, including hereditary retinal disease and macular dystrophies.

Teaching Interests

Dr. Van Gelder spends considerable time teaching residents, fellows and medical students about ocular inflammatory disease.

Scope of Care

Dr. Van Gelder treats ocular inflammatory and medical retinal disease primarily through medical treatments, as well as in-office procedures.

Research Interests

Dr. Van Gelder's laboratory is interested in the mechanisms of uveitic disease, including discovery of novel pathogens and understanding the role of auto-antibodies in uveitis. His laboratory is also interested in how the eye can sense light without seeing it.


Stanford University School of MedicineMedical education1994


Board Certifications

American Board of OphthalmologyOphthalmology2000
Loading Publications...