Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Richard Hurwitz M.D.

Richard Hurwitz, M.D.

Richard Hurwitz, M.D.

Associate Member
Cancer Research Program
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Department of Ophthalmology
Baylor College of Medicine

E-mail:  rhurwitz@bcm.edu
Phone: 832-824-4259



Albany Medical College, Albany, NY

B.S.   Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY (Biology)

Postdoctoral Training

Residency in Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Postdoctoral Fellow in Pediatric Immunology, Hematology, and Oncology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 

Research Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 

Senior Fellow, Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington , Seattle, WA



Dr. Richard Hurwitz received his M.D. degree from Albany Medical College. After graduating from medical school, Dr. Hurwitz completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Minnesota.  He studies the potential use of gene therapy for the treatment of ocular diseases.

He has developed a treatment for retinoblastoma using suicide gene therapy that is currently in clinical trials. To further refine this therapeutic option, Dr. Hurwitz is studying the cellular origin of retinoblastoma and the differences between invasive and non-invasive forms of the disease.

In addition, he is also using in vivo models of retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration to develop gene therapy treatments for retinal degenerative diseases. The mechanism of adenoviral-mediated transgene expression in the ocular environment is being explored with the goals of identifying molecular targets to modulate adenoviral-mediated gene therapy for both retinoblastoma and retinal degenerative diseases.

Description of Research

The Hurwitz laboratory studies the use of gene therapy in the treatment of ocular disease. Retinoblastoma is the most common malignant intraocular tumor of children and is caused by mutations in the retinoblastoma gene.

Using a model of this disease, they have shown that suicide gene therapy using an adenoviral vector to deliver the herpes thymidine kinase gene followed by treatment with ganciclovir can ablate tumors. Based on these studies, an FDA- and RAC-approved clinical trial was opened to investigate the use of this therapy for children with retinoblastoma.

The Hurwitz laboratory is also studying the use of gene replacement therapy using the normal reti-noblastoma gene delivered by an adenoviral vector for the treatment of retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma has a unique mode of metastasis. In vitro and in vivo models of metastatic retinoblastoma that closely mimic human disease have been developed. Using these models, they are studying the role of metalloproteinases in the early stages of retinoblastoma metastasis. Their goal is to use this knowledge to find a successful treatment to prevent and treat this devastating complication of retinoblastoma.

Major Areas of Research

Hematology, retinoblastoma, gene therapy

Recent Publications

Chévez-Barrios P, Chintagumpala M, Mieler W, Paysse E, Boniuk M, Kozinetz C, Hurwitz MY, Hurwitz RL. Response of retinoblastoma with vitreous tumor seeding to adenovirus-mediated delivery of thymidine kinase followed by ganciclovir. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Nov 1;23(31):7927-35. PMID: 16258092

Hurwitz RL, Chévez-Barrios P, Boniuk M, Chintagumpala M, Hurwitz MY. Retinoblastoma: from bench to bedside. Expert Rev Mol Med. 2003 Jan 7;5(1):1-14.  PMID: 14987394