Dr. Tariq Rana is a scholar, inventor, entrepreneur, and multidisciplinary scientist who is developing new therapies to treat infectious diseases, cancer, and immune disorders. He is a Distinguished Professor and Head of Genetics, V/C for Innovation in Therapeutics, Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, where his laboratory employs mechanisms and technologies of RNA, stem cells, and chemical biology to discover new pathways implicated in human disease. 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.
Dr. Rana’s research focuses on elucidating the function of regulatory RNAs, and his team has helped to uncover the fundamental roles of RNAs and RNA–protein complexes in gene silencing, stem cell biology, cancer, and host–pathogen interactions and immunity. The common thread running through all aspects of his research is his passion to reveal the architecture and function of RNA regulatory machines and their role in modulating biological functions. The multidisciplinary nature of his work has allowed his team to launch collaborations with investigators working in chemistry, biology, and drug discovery, and extends into his philosophy of education. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows receive an integrative training in his laboratory, and many have successfully established independent careers and hold leadership positions in both academia and industry. Several technologies developed by his group have been used to develop small molecules and biological therapeutics that are currently in clinical trials.
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.”