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Rajesh C. Rao, M.D.

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Primary Appointment: Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Primary PIBS Dept.: Molecular and Cellular Pathology
PubMed Name: Rajesh C Rao
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  The long-term goal of our work is to bridge the fields of stem cell biology and epigenetics toward improved treatments for--and a better understanding of--blinding diseases. To understand the role of epigenetic mechanisms in retinal development and disease, we employ conditional knockout mice, and wild-type and mutant embryonic stem cell-derived retinal tissues with gene-edited alterations in specific chromatin modifying enzymes.

The explosion of small-molecule epigenetic modifiers in drug development for cancer and inflammatory disorders allow us a new toolbox to assess whether some of these agents target critical pathways required for retinal cell survival in a variety of retinal degenerative, fibrotic, and neoplastic disorders.

We collaborate with researchers and clinicians in a variety of departments and programs, including the Department of Pathology, Taubman Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, and University of Michigan-wide faculty involved in epigenetics and drug discovery. Through these collaborative efforts, we hope to develop novel pharmacologic gene and cell-based clinical therapies to promote regeneration, and reduce scar and tumor formation in patients with blinding retinal diseases.