Dinesh Rao, MD, PhD

Dinesh Rao, MD, PhD 

Assistant Professor


Dinesh S. Rao, MD, PhD, focuses on research into the role of non-coding RNA in hematopoietic stem cells, development and disease.

The goal of his research is to understand the developmental and pathologic mechanisms regulated by non-coding RNA in the hematopoietic system. The recent discovery of microRNA has led to a revolution in gene expression research. The challenge now is to overlay these mechanisms with what is already known about hematopoietic stem cells and their differentiation.

Dr. Rao has identified a set of non-coding RNAs that are dysregulated in leukemia, a blood disease that arises in stem cells. As he studied these RNAs, he discovered that they regulated a variety of proteins that were important in developing blood cells as well as in leukemia. These findings laid the groundwork for two ambitious goals in his lab: to develop these molecules as therapeutic interventions in patients with leukemia, and to understand the basic biology of how these molecules influence the development of hematopoietic stem cells.

A member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Dr. Rao is an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He joined the UCLA faculty in 2010 after completing a hematopathology fellowship at UCLA and advanced research training in the laboratory of Nobel laureate David Baltimore at Caltech. He obtained his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio and performed oncology research at the University of Michigan as a post-doctorate.

Dr. Rao is affiliated with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Molecular Biology Institute. He is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathologists, and the Society for Hematopathology. He is a fellow of the College of American Pathologists and a Scholar of the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research.

Dr. Rao’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research, the Tower Cancer Research Foundation, the Stein-Oppenheimer endowment at UCLA, and the Broad Stem Cell Research Center.