Raju V.S. Rajala, PhD

M.G. McCool Professor of Ophthalmology
Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor
Professor of Physiology
Adjunct Professor of Cell Biology
Mentoring Faculty, Oklahoma Center for Neuroscience

 

Curriculum Vitae

Special Interests

  • Phosphoinositide Signaling in the Neuroprotection of the Retina
  • Retina/RPE Metabolism and Metabolic Reprogramming
  • Lipid Nanotechnology
  • Neuroprotective Survival Pathways Regulated by Receptor and Non-receptor Tyrosine Kinases and Receptor and Non-receptor Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • Cross Communication Between Rhodopsin and Tyrosine Kinase/Phosphatase Signaling in Photoreceptors

 

Training

  • PhD: Biochemistry, Andhra University, India
  • Postdoctoral Training: Molecular Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Research Summary

The principal thrust of Dr. Rajala’s current research is to redefine our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases of the retina. Light-sensing photoreceptor cells in the retina are terminally differentiated, thus once they are lost, and they cannot regenerate, making the development of potential therapies infinitely more challenging. As a result, currently available treatments can only delay vision loss; they cannot prevent it. Our aims involve developing innovative approaches to prevent visual loss through manipulation of metabolic reprogramming, use of lipid-nanotechnology, stem-cell implantation, and activation of endogenous neuroprotective pathways. Translational application of our work to Phase I human studies is our ultimate goal. Our research also focuses on the parallels between cancer metabolism and photoreceptor degenerative diseases. We are examining the role of pyruvate kinase M2, a critical enzyme of a cell’s respiratory pathway; and how modulating the activity of this enzyme would be beneficial for photoreceptor survival.