On Wednesday, August 3, Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D. was named Director of the NIH Intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH-CRM), a new center on the NIH campus that will focus on stem cell research and technology.
Story Landis, Director and Chair of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force, welcomed Dr. Rao as the new director of NIH-CRM. “He brings extensive experience with human stem cells to the position as well as considerable energy and focus on moving to clinical applications,” said Dr. Landis.
One of the main goals of the NIH-CRM will be to develop translational applications of stem cell-based therapies by building upon current NIH investments in stem cell research. The center will focus on research using both human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells, in addition to serving as a resource to the scientific community at large by providing stem cell lines and supporting protocols for culturing and differentiating cells.
Dr. Rao has worked in the stem cell field for more than 20 years in both academia and industry, including Q Therapeutics, the company he co-founded in 2004, which develops cell-based therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Rao previously served as the section chief of stem cells at the National Institute on Aging before he famously resigned in 2005, citing the Bush administration’s prohibitive stance on stem cell research. Since that time he has served as vice president of Regenerative Medicine at Invitrogen’s Life Technologies. In addition to his director position, Dr. Rao will also hold a joint research appointment in National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
This announcement comes on the heels of a U.S. District court ruling that overturned a ban on the use of federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research. In conjunction with legislation like the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act, stem cell research will not only able to proceed unencumbered, it will thrive.