Mohan Rao obtained his MSc in Physical Chemistry from Kakatiya University, Warangal and PhD from School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad on "Photoacoustic Spectroscopy of Chemical and Biological Systems". He joined the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) as a Scientist and initiated intact-lens spectroscopic investigation. He visited the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA (1990-92) and was a Visiting Professor at the Tokyo Science University, Japan (1996); Visiting Scientist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, USA (2000), Visiting Professor at the Institute of Protein Research, Osaka, Japan (2002) and JSPS Invitation Fellow at the University of Tokyo (2004). Adjunct Professor Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne, Australia (2016-19)
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Mohan Rao combines biophysical, molecular biological and cell biological approaches to address problems of biomedical importance. His in situ investigations on malarial parasites using photo acoustic spectroscopy provided first experimental evidence for the presence of hemin aggregates along with the pigment and led to a model for possible mechanism. His intact lens fluorescence spectroscopic studies, including synchronous scan and 'red edge excitation shift' (REES), have provided significant insight into the mobility and molecular packing of eye lens proteins which are relevant in lens transparency and cataract. This was the first application of REES to intact biological sample. He has also investigated photochemical damage to the eye lens highlighting the importance of sunlight in cataractogenesis. His biophysical investigations of alpha-crystallin, such as effect of temperature dependent structural perturbation and loss of chaperone activity, have shown structure-function relationship and possibility of increasing the activity by structural alterations. This finding opened up the possibility of mitigating the complications arising out of protein misfolding and aggregation by enhancing chaperone-like activity. Utilizing molecular biology tools he has engineered chimeric proteins with several fold higher activity with potential therapeutic applications. His later studies showed the possibility of alpha-crystallin's role in stabilizing the nuclear matrix, transcriptional apparatus, gene expression, apoptosis, angiogenesis and cytoskeletal organization and high-affinity copper binding. His recent work includes development of smart nanoparticles for drug delivery, paper microfluidcs-based affordable diagnostics, novel molecules for photodynamic thepary.
Other Contributions: Mohan Rao has developed DNA based diagnostic chip for simultaneously identifying 20 different organisms that cause ophthalmic infections as part of a multi-institutional project,. He was the President of the Indian Biophysical Society (2009-11), President of (SBC(I) (2014-16), President, AP Akademi of Science (2012-15), President, Telanga Academy of Sciences (2015-18). Council Member, IUPAB (2014-17, Memeber of the council FAOBMB and Section Editor of BBA-Proteins and Proteomics.
Awards and Honours: Mohan Rao is a recipient of Young Scientist Award of the Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences; Young Scientist Award of the Indian Association for Radiation Protection; Rohto Award, China; Sreenivasaya Memorial Award by the SBC(I); Ranbaxy Award and SS Bhatnagar Award. He is a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Science (India), Allahabad and Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences.