The Lab is led by Dr. Tariq Rana, Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Diego Medical School. He is the Head of Genetics, V/C for Innovation in Therapeutics, and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Rana is a multidisciplinary scientist who is uncovering underlying disease mechanisms and translating new findings into innovative therapies to treat multiple human diseases. Fundamental rules for RNA chemical modifications to stabilize functional RNAs in vivo and prevent undesired immune activation, RNA-targeting small molecules, and delivery technologies developed by his group have been licensed by pharmaceutical companies leading to several approved medicines and clinical trials. Students and postdoctoral fellows receive broad training in his laboratory, and many have successfully established independent careers and hold leadership positions in both academia and industry. 

Dr. Rana received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Davis and he was an American Cancer Society fellow in the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics and Department of Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley. Dr. Rana held a Professorship in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and served as a founding director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded Chemical Biology Initiative at UMass Medical School to establish diverse research groups and state of the art capabilities for HT screening and drug discovery, structure-based drug design, and medicinal chemistry for the development of lead compounds. After moving to San Diego, he founded the Center for RNA Biology to build cutting-edge functional genomics and HT sequencing facilities and to recruit a team of investigators. His current research program continues to discover new links between RNA regulation and multiple disease states. 

Dr. Rana has served as a member or chair of several scientific advisory boards and numerous institutional, national, and international committees, and has received multiple teaching and research awards. Some of his awards include the Presidential Talent Award, a Research Career Award from the National Institutes of Health, Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from Nature and Johnson & Johnson, and NIH Director’s Avant-Garde Award which is given to individual scientists of exceptional creativity with high-impact research that opens new areas of HIV/AIDS research and cure. Dr. Rana is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the AAAS for “distinguished contributions to the field of chemical biology, particularly using chemistry to study RNA regulation and gene silencing to treat human disease.”