Leadership

Prakash Rao, Ph.D., MBA, FACHE, HCLD

Vice President of Diagnostics & Research Operations and
Director of Transplant Laboratory

 

Dr. Prakash Rao received his Ph.D. from Bombay University in Mumbai, India and his MBA from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. His post-doctoral training in liver regeneration factors and post-doctoral training in Molecular Immunology was completed at the University of Ulm in West Germany and at the Indian Institute of Science, respectively.

Dr. Rao joined the transplant program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in 1987 as a Sandoz research fellow in transplantation research, rising to the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery and Director of Transplantation Research. At UPMC, under the mentorship of transplant pioneer, Dr. T.E. Starzl, Dr. Rao was involved in several cutting edge projects in organ preservation, transplantation immunology, and immunosuppressive therapy. He was part of the team that participated in two of the most important discoveries in modern organ transplantation; the UW solution for clinical organ preservation, and the establishment of FK-506 (Prograf) as a safe and powerful immunosuppressive. Dr. Rao has extensive publications in peer-reviewed journals including Transplantation, Hepatology, and Transplantation Proceedings. In addition, Dr. Rao worked at Mt. Sinai Medical Center as the Director of Transplantation Research.

From 2001-06 Dr. Rao served as Professor of Surgery, Director of Transplant Evaluation and Chief of the Section of Immune Evaluation at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. Prior to that he was an Associate Professor of Medicine & Obstetrics/Gynecology and Assistant Director of the Transplant Laboratory at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center. Dr. Rao participated in Cancer Biomarker research, resulting in the successful invention of a patented blood test for breast and other female reproductive cancers.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Rao moved to Arizona. There he joined Provista Life Sciences, a biotech startup specializing in biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and female reproductive cancers, as President and COO, as well as Principal Investigator for NIH grants. His research efforts, in collaboration with academic partners, have been published in prestigious journals such as Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention (CEBP), Gynecological Oncology, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA), Journal of Investigative Dermatology, and the Journal of Cancer. He later added to his professional career as COO and Director of the Molecular Oncology Diagnostics Laboratory at Prost-Data Inc. in Texas.

Dr. Rao came to the NJ Sharing Network in January 2009 to provide leadership to the Transplant Laboratory. His efforts have led to the development of a wonderful cross-functional team of laboratory professionals who have played a role in saving over 6400 lives.

Dr. Rao is convinced that the NJ Sharing Network has the ability to ‘Transform Transplantology’ to save and enhance even more lives, so he continues to introduce innovative platforms such as:

  • The “GOLD” (Gift of Living Donation) initiative is a living donation program that will increase the number of transplants performed in partnership hospitals. 
  • “No Organ Left Behind” is a cutting edge program that is a culmination of research on biomarkers of donor organ viability, personalized transplant medicine, and regenerative medicine. There is a particular emphasis on organ repair and transplantation and the induction of transplant tolerance without immunosuppression. This initiative will increase the opportunity for transplant in patients who currently are the most difficult to find a suitable transplant for.

Dr. Rao has presented his research findings at peer-reviewed national and international transplantation conferences, and remains a highly sought after speaker. In recognition of his innovations in transforming transplantation, NJBiz has honored him as a New Jersey Healthcare Hero finalist in 2016 and 2017. He is listed in Who’s Who in Medical Education USA.

Dr. Rao is an accreditation inspector for the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI), and has served on several committees for ASHI. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a certified Healthcare Executive, a Green Belt in Six-Sigma, and is nationally certified as a High Complexity Clinical Laboratory Director.