Mala Rao, Ph.D.

Mala Rao, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
Center for Dementia Research

Dr. Rao obtained his Ph.D., from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and did his post-doctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Department of Pathology (Prof. Eli Gorelik); Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology (Prof. John P. Merlie); and University of California at San Diego, Department of Neuroscience and Ludwig Cancer Research Institute (Prof. Don W. Cleveland). Dr. Rao has been at NKI’s Center for Dementia Research since 1999 examining the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in ALS and AD.

  • Prof. Giri Memorial Award for best Ph.D. Thesis in School of Biological Sciences-1992
  • Indian Institute of Science fellowship: 1986-1991
  • 1R21NS061190-01A1: PI: Mala V. Rao: 5/01/2009-04/30/2012. “Role of calpastatin in mutant SOD1-mediated motor neuron disease”.
  • RO1 NIH/NIA AG05604 PI: Ralph A. Nixon, 06/1/10 – 05/31/17. “Dynamics of the neuronal cytoskeleton in Aging Brain”: This study is focused on identification of molecular mechanisms that regulated neurofilament proteolysis during aging and also mechanisms that regulate neurofilament dependent synaptic events. Role: Co-Investigator

Select Publications

  • Rao MV, Campbell J, Palaniappan A, Kumar A and Nixon RA. Calpastatin inhibits motor neuron death and increases survival of hSOD1G93A mice. J. Neuochem. 2016; 137:253-65.

  • Yuan A, Sershen H, Veeranna, Basavarajappa BS, Kumar A, Hashim A, Berg M, J-H Lee J-H, Sato Y, Rao MV, Mohan PS, Dyakin V, Julien, J-P, Lee VM-Y, Nixon, RA. Neurofilament subunits are integral components of synapses and modulate neurotransmission and behavior in vivo. Mol Psychiatry 2015: 8:915. doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.99. PMID: 26201270. 

  • Rao MV, McBrayer MK, Campbell J, Kumar A, Hashim A, Sershen H, Stavrides PH, Ohno M, Hutton M, Nixon RA. Specific Calpain Inhibition by Calpastatin Prevents Tauopathy and Neurodegeneration and Restores Normal Lifespan in Tau P301L Mice. J Neurosci. 2014; 34(28):9222-34. PMID: 25009256.

  • Rao, M.V., Yuan, D., Campbell, J., Kumar, A., and Nixon, R.A. The C-terminal domains of NF-H and NF-M subunits maintain axonal neurofilament content by blocking turnover of the stationary neurofilament network. PLoS One. 2012; 7(9): e44320. 

  • Rao, M.V., Mohan, P.S., Peterhoff, C.M., Yang, D.S., Schmidt, S.D., Stavrides P.H., Campbell, J., Chen, Y., Jiang, Y., Paskevich, P.A., Cataldo, A.M.,  Haroutunian, V., and Nixon, R.A. Marked Calpastatin (CAST) depletion in Alzheimer’s disease accelerates cytoskeleton disruption and neurodegeneration: Neuroprotection by CAST overexpression. J. Neurosci. 2008; 29:11316-29. PMID: 19741138.