Dr. Rajini Rao is a professor of physiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her area of research expertise is studying the roles of intracellular ion transport in health and disease. She serves as the director of the graduate program in cellular and molecular medicine and the director of the Center for Membrane Transport at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Rao received her undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, India. After receiving her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Rochester in 1988, she spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Carolyn Slayman at Yale University. She arrived at Johns Hopkins in 1993.
One of her lab's many accomplishments is the discovery of an oncogenic role for SPCA2 in breast cancer, opening a new chapter in the study of this isoform. Currently, Dr. Rao's lab researches the roles of intracellular cation transport in human health and disease using yeast as a model organism.
Her academic activities are divided equally between education, mentoring and research. As the director of the graduate program in cellular and molecular medicine, she oversees a multi-departmental training program that includes approximately 130 faculty mentors and 150 graduate students. She is a faculty mentor in other graduate programs at the School of Medicine (biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology; cellular and molecular physiology) where she teaches, direct courses and holds small group discussions. She has mentored more than 20 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in her lab, many of whom have won national awards and independent fellowships.
As part of her long-standing effort to improve the representation of minority groups at all levels of academia, Dr. Rao has participated in numerous diversity committees and panels. She served on the admissions committee for the summer internship program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, which offers research experience to students of diverse background. She has also hosted at least one underrepresented minority student in her laboratory every year.