Venu Raman, Ph.D.

Headshot of Venu Raman
  • Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

Research Interests

Cancer stem cells; Imaging hypoxia; Image-guided treatment of cancer; Breast cancer models; Chemotherapeutic molecules; Preclinical cancer xenograft models; Molecular imaging; DDX3; Twist; HOXA5; Developmental breast cancer biology more


Dr. Venu Raman is a Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science and Department of Oncology and a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.  He is affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Medicine In vivo Cellular Molecular Imaging Center and is the Director of Molecular Therapeutics-Division of Cancer Imaging. His research focuses on developmental breast cancer biology. Dr. Raman’s work on deciphering the role of HOXA5 and Twist in breast cancer formation is widely recognized both nationally and internationally.

His current research focuses on translating basic research findings to the clinic and incorporating multi-modality tools to identify novel druggable targets for cancer treatment. In their quest to characterize cellular pathways that are essential for the oncogenic state, his laboratory has focused on helicases, which are dysregulated in many cancer types. One of the helicase genes they are working on is referred to as DDX3, which is overexpressed in many cancer types and has been associated with lower survival. To target DDX3, his team has synthesized a DDX3 inhibitor, RK‐33, which can potentially be used in cancer treatment. Binding of RK‐33 to DDX3 impedes the function of DDX3, resulting in activation of cell death pathways, inhibition of the Wnt‐signaling pathway, and abrogation of non‐homologous end‐joining (NHEJ) activity. In combination with radiation, synergistic cell death effects have been observed both in vitro and in multiple preclinical cancer models. The group is continuing development of RK-33 as a potential new drug for cancer treatment. In addition, he has been awarded several patents for his research and inventions related to cancer biology.

Dr. Raman received his undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Bombay and his Masters in microbiology from the University of Baroda. He earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of New South Wales, Australia. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology from Indiana University and followed that with a research fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Raman joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2000. more


  • Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; University of New South Wales - Sydney (Australia) (1990)

Additional Training

  • The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1999, Research fellow; The Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 1995, Postdoctoral fellow

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Raman's research is primarily in the area of development breast cancer biology. His work on deciphering the role of DDX3, HOXA5 and the Twist gene in breast cancer formation earned him international recognition and has fundamental implications for early detection, treatment, and prevention of breast cancer.

Dr. Raman has significant experience in generating preclinical cancer xenograft models as well as developing chemotherapeutic molecules for treating cancers. He has played a key role in the integration of molecular biology techniques with imaging and is involved in a number of ongoing studies that examine image-guided drug treatments for cancer.

Selected Publications

Winnard, P. Jr., Kluth, B. J. and Raman, V. “Non-invasive optical tracking of red fluorescent protein expressing cancer cells in a model of metastatic breast cancer.” Neoplasia. 2006; 8:796-806

Raman, V., Artemov, D., Pathak, A.P., Winnard, P. Jr., McNutt, S., Yudina, A., Bogdanov, A.Jr. and Bhujwalla, Z.M. “Characterizing vascular parameters in hypoxic regions: A combined MR and optical imaging study of a human prostate cancer model.” Cancer Research. 2006; 66:9929-9936

Winnard, P. Jr., Kluth, B. J. Kato, Y., Artemov, D. and Raman, V. “Development of novel chimeric transmembrane proteins for multimodality imaging of cancer cells.” Cancer Biology and Therapy. 2007; 6:1889-1899

Botlagunta, M., Vesuna, F., Mironchik, Y., Raman, A., Lisok, A., Winnard, P., Mukudam, S., van Diest, P., Chen, H.J., Farabaugh, P., Patel, H.A. and Raman, V. “Oncogenic role of DDX3 in breast cancer biogenesis.” Oncogene. 2008; 28:3912-3922

Vesuna, F., Lisok, A., Kimble, B. and Raman, V. “Twist modulates breast cancer stem cells by transcriptional regulation of CD24 expression.” Neoplasia. 2009; 12:1318-1328

Penet, M.F.; Pathak, A.P.; Raman, V.; Ballesteros, P.; Artemov, D.; Bhujwalla, Z.M. Noninvasive multiparametric imaging of metastasis-permissive microenvironments in a human prostate cancer xenograft. Cancer Res. 2009 Nov 15;69(22):8822-8829

Botlagunta, M.; Winnard, P.T., Jr.; Raman, V. Neoplastic transformation of breast epithelial cells by genotoxic stress. BMC Cancer. 2010;10:343

Kakkad, S.M.; Solaiyappan, M.; O'Rourke, B.; Stasinopoulos, I.; Ackerstaff, E.; Raman, V.; Bhujwalla, Z.M.; Glunde, K. Hypoxic tumor microenvironments reduce collagen I fiber density. Neoplasia. 2010 Aug;12(8):608-617

Satoh, H.; Moriguchi, T.; Taguchi, K.; Takai, J.; Maher, J.M.; Suzuki, T.; Winnard, P.T., Jr.; Raman, V.; Ebina, M.; Nukiwa, T.; Yamamoto, M. Nrf2-deficiency creates a responsive microenvironment for metastasis to the lung. Carcinogenesis. 2010 Oct;31(10):1833-1843

Shah, T.; Wildes, F.; Penet, M.F.; Winnard, P.T., Jr.; Glunde, K.; Artemov, D.; Ackerstaff, E.; Gimi, B.; Kakkad, S.; Raman, V.; Bhujwalla, Z.M. Choline kinase overexpression increases invasiveness and drug resistance of human breast cancer cells. NMR Biomed. 2010 Jul;23(6):633-642

Activities & Honors


  • Commonwealth Government Post-Graduate Research Scholarship, Australia, 1987
  • Outstanding Research Award presented at the Annual meeting of American Association for Cancer Research, New Orleans, 1998
  • PCT number-64817PCT(71699) (USA-2007)-Inventors include: Peter Van Zijl, Patent Office, 2007
  • Exogenous Gene regulatory Systems- PL3646/92, Patent, 1991
  • Fused diimidazodiazepine compounds and methods of use and manufacture thereof. PCT/US2009/005273, Patent, 2009
  • Compositions and methods for characterizing breast cancer. PCT/US11/28358, Patent, 2011
  • Outstanding Research Scientist Award, Annual Oncology Symposia held at Johns Hopkins University, 1997

Professional Activities

  • Editorial board, Molecular Medicine Reports, 2007
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