Tariq Rana, Ph.D.

Tariq Rana

Tariq Rana, Ph.D.

Educational Affiliate Professor
Distinguished Professor and Head of Genetics, University of California, San Diego

Tariq Rana's Research Focus

RNA and Chemical Biology approaches to develop new therapies and cures for COVID-19, Cancer, and HIV/AIDS 

We are a multidisciplinary laboratory focused on discovering fundamental mechanisms of RNA biology that regulate immune response to viral infections and cancer, and the host response to immunotherapy. Our team has helped to uncover RNAi, chemical rules to develop RNA medicines, fundamental structural and functional features of small RNAs, and RNP complexes required for gene silencing in human cells.

Tariq Rana's Bio

Dr. Tariq Rana is a multidisciplinary scientist who is developing new therapies to treat infectious diseases, cancer, and immune disorders. He is a Distinguished Professor and Head of Genetics, V/C for Innovation in Therapeutics, Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, where his laboratory employs mechanisms and technologies of RNA, stem cells, and chemical biology to discover new pathways implicated in human disease. Dr. Rana received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Davis and he was an American Cancer Society fellow in the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics and Department of Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley. Dr. Rana held a Professorship in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and served as a founding director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded Chemical Biology Initiative at UMass Medical School to establish diverse research groups and state of the art capabilities for HT screening and drug discovery, structure-based drug design, and medicinal chemistry for the development of lead compounds.

 Dr. Rana’s research focuses on elucidating the function of regulatory RNAs, and his team has helped to uncover RNAi, chemical rules to develop RNA medicines, fundamental structural and functional features of small RNAs, and RNP complexes required for gene silencing in human cells. The common thread running through all aspects of his research is his passion to reveal the architecture and function of RNA regulatory machines and their role in modulating biological functions. The multidisciplinary nature of his work has allowed his team to launch collaborations with investigators working in chemistry, biology, and drug discovery, and extends into his philosophy of education. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows receive an integrative training in his laboratory, and many have successfully established independent careers and hold leadership positions in both academia and industry. Several technologies developed by his group have been used to develop small molecules and biological therapeutics. 

Dr. Rana has served as a member or chair of several scientific advisory boards and numerous institutional, national, and international committees, and has received multiple teaching and research awards. Some of his awards include the Presidential Talent Award, a Research Career Award from the National Institutes of Health, Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from Nature and Johnson & Johnson, and NIH Director’s Avant-Garde Award which is given to individual scientists of exceptional creativity with high-impact research that opens new areas of HIV/AIDS research and cure. Dr. Rana is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the AAAS for “distinguished contributions to the field of chemical biology, particularly using chemistry to study RNA regulation and gene silencing to treat human disease.”


TIM Accessory


Small RNA-mediated regulation of iPS cell generation.

Li Z, Yang CS, Nakashima K, Rana TM

EMBO J 2011 Mar 2 ;30(5):823-34

Cellular microRNA and P bodies modulate host-HIV-1 interactions.

Nathans R, Chu CY, Serquina AK, Lu CC, Cao H, Rana TM

Mol Cell 2009 Jun 26 ;34(6):696-709

Small-molecule inhibition of HIV-1 Vif.

Nathans R, Cao H, Sharova N, Ali A, Sharkey M, Stranska R, Stevenson M, Rana TM

Nat Biotechnol 2008 Oct ;26(10):1187-92

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Rational Design and Optimization of m6A-RNA Demethylase FTO Inhibitors as Anticancer Agents.

Huff S, Kummetha IR, Zhang L, Wang L, Bray W, Yin J, Kelley V, Wang Y, Rana TM

J Med Chem 2022 Aug 25 ;65(16):10920-10937

Virologic and Immunologic Characterization of COVID-19 Recrudescence after Nirmatrelvir/Ritonavir Treatment.

Carlin AF, Clark AE, Chaillon A, Garretson AF, Bray W, Porrachia M, Santos AT, Rana TM, Smith DM

Clin Infect Dis 2022 Jun 20 ;

Genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 transcriptional activation screen identifies a histone acetyltransferase inhibitor complex as a regulator of HIV-1 integration.

Zhang Q, Wang S, Li W, Yau E, Hui H, Singh PK, Achuthan V, Young Karris MA, Engelman AN, Rana TM

Nucleic Acids Res 2022 Jun 17 ;

Regulation of antiviral innate immunity by chemical modification of viral RNA.

Li N, Rana TM

Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA 2022 Feb 12 ;:e1720

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