Professor, Harvard Medical School
Head and Member, La Jolla Institute for Allergy
Member of National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Rao’s research revolves around understanding the mechanisms of signal transduction and gene expression at a molecular level, using T cells as a model system. She identified the founding member of the NFAT transcription factor family and has elucidated the role of NFAT in immune activation and tolerance. She has identified the mechanisms of NFAT regulation by CRAC channel components, calcineurin, and NFAT kinases, and has studied the regulation of the expression of NFAT target genes at the chromatin level. She has received numerous awards including a Stohlman Scholar Award from the Leukemia Society of America, a MERIT award from the NIH and a Meritorious Career Award from the American Association of Immunologists and the Huang Foundation. She has served on the Advisory Council to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). She has been at Harvard and affiliated institutions throughout her professional career, receiving a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University and doing postdoctoral research and serving as a faculty member at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before joining The CBR Institute for Biomedical Research.