In Memoriam: David R. Hinton, MD, FARVO

David Hinton
David Hinton (Photo courtesy of USC)

Professor of Pathology; Gavin S. Herbert Professorship in Vision Research; Associate Dean for Vision Science; Vice Chair of Pathology; Director, Keck School of Medicine of USC/CalTech MD/PhD Program; Director, Dean’s Research Scholars Program; Affiliate PI, USC Stem Cell

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of David R. Hinton, MD, on June 7, 2022.

David was a wonderful colleague and great collaborator, a groundbreaking and insightful scientist, a loyal and hardworking contributor to his department, school and institute, and a beloved teacher, mentor and friend—a person who was deeply cared about by many and respected by all.

Born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, David graduated from the University of Toronto in 1978 with a medical degree. In 1983, he completed a combined residency/fellowship in neuropathology in Toronto, and then moved to California to do a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. In 1988, he joined the Department of Pathology at USC, where he remained for his entire career.

As a pioneering scientist whose focus was on understanding the pathology of eye diseases, David’s research was groundbreaking and helped increase our understanding of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and in particular, the central role of the retinal pigment epithelium in this blinding disease that affects millions world-wide. David, along with Mark Humayun of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Dennis Clegg of the University of California, Santa Barbara, founded a startup company called Regenerative Patch Technologies in order to start an investigational clinical trial using stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium implants for patients with advanced AMD to help restore their eyesight. The results of this trial, albeit early stage, have been remarkable—restoring sight to some patients for whom there was no foreseeable cure.

A prolific and well-funded researcher for his entire career, David authored nearly 400 peer- reviewed publications and articles in high impact journals, many abstracts and book chapters and was also co-author of the award-winning Ryan’s Retina textbook. David’s work was cited nearly 10,000 times by other researchers. In 2017, David was inducted into the USC Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, and the same year received a Technology Innovation Award for “Stem Cell-Based Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration.”

David was a highly valued mentor, overseeing the training of hundreds of students, postdocs, residents, and fellows. He was the recipient of dozens of teaching awards (he was designated a “Master Teacher” at the Keck School in 2008) and made lasting contributions to the Neuroscience System in the medical school curriculum.

In recent years, David took on two academic roles at the Keck School that became very important to him personally: leadership of the joint USC/Caltech MD/PhD program, and the Dean’s Research Scholars program, which supported a fifth research year for medical students. As a physician scientist himself, his support and experience were profoundly helpful to these trainees, and he found his interactions with these future biomedical researchers to be immensely rewarding.

David contributed substantially to the Department of Pathology and the Keck School, serving in leadership roles in each. He was Vice Chair of Pathology from 2004 until the present, and served as the chair of the Pathology Appointments and Promotions Committee, the Faculty Advisory Committee, and the Pathology Research Committee. He also served as Associate Dean for Vision Science at the Keck School from 2013 until the present.

David is survived by his loving husband and partner for 25 years, Ramon Campos Salazar, their beloved dog RJ, David’s brother Michael Hinton and his wife Debbie (Montreal, Quebec), David’s brother Stephen Hinton, MD, and his wife Susan MacDonald, MD (Kingston, Ontario], and Ramon’s family (Visalia, California), nieces and nephews, and friends and colleagues in Canada, the United States, and around the world.

David’s family and friends will be gathering to celebrate his life later this summer. (The date and time to be announced soon.) In lieu of flowers, the family would want friends and colleagues to honor his life and work by considering donating to the Dean’s Medical Scholarship Fund ( When making a gift, there is an opportunity to donate in honor of Dr. David Ralph Hinton.

We would like to sincerely thank the following individuals for contributing to this piece: Ramon Campos Salazar, Debbie Hinton, Michael Hinton, Christine Chavez, Ernesto Barron, Mark Humayun, Judy Garner, and Michael Selsted.

Mentioned in this article: Mark Humayun, MD, PhD