Dr. Mahendra Rao was recently appointed first director of NIH’s new intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine.
Photo: Michael Spencer
Dr. Mahendra S. Rao was recently appointed director of the new NIH intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine. The NIH-CRM is an initiative
to create a world-class center of excellence in stem cell technology on campus, including induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which can have applications in many systems and organs of the body. This is an initiative of the NIH Common
Fund and will be administered by NIAMS.
“Dr. Rao’s varied experience makes him perfectly
qualified to bring large groups together in order to move stem cell technologies through clinical trials and beyond to the clinic,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, announcing the appointment.
A major goal for the center is to build on existing
NIH investments in stem cell research to advance translational studies and ultimately cell-based therapies in the Clinical Center. The center will also serve as a resource for the scientific
community, providing stem cells, as well as the supporting protocols and standard operating
procedures used to derive, culture and differentiate
them into various cell types.
In addition to the NIH-CRM director position, Rao will hold a joint research appointment in NIAMS and NINDS.
NIAMS scientific director Dr. John O’Shea noted,
“Dr. Rao is an ideal choice to lead the NIH-CRM at this pivotal time for stem cell research. His unique background will serve him and the center well as we move forward to fulfill the great promise of stem cell technology.”
Rao is internationally renowned for his research involving human embryonic stem cells and other somatic stem cells. He has worked in the stem cell field for more than 20 years, with stints in academia, government and regulatory
affairs and industry. He received his M.D. from Bombay University in India and his Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology from California Institute of Technology.
Following postdoctoral training at Case Western Reserve University, he established his research laboratory in neural development at the University
of Utah. He next joined the National Institute on Aging as chief of the neurosciences
section, where he studied neural progenitor cells and continued to explore his longstanding interest in their clinical potential.
Most recently, he spent 6 years as vice president
of regenerative medicine at Life Technologies,
Carlsbad, Calif. He also co-founded Q Therapeutics, a neural stem cell company based in Salt Lake City.