J. USHA RAJ, MD
Anjuli S. Nayak Professor of Pediatrics
Dr. J. Usha Raj came from the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in 2008 to head the Department of Pediatrics. She is a nationally and internationally renowned neonatologist and clinician/investigator with a research program in Pulmonary Vascular Biology that has been continuously funded by NIH for over 28 years. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1981 and is actively involved in advocacy for children as a member of AMSPDC She was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1994 and to the American Pediatric Society in 1996. She is an elected member of the Executive Council of the American Physiological Society. She has served twice as a regular member of the Study Sections of the National Institutes of Health, and is called upon to serve on many review panels and workshops by the NIH. Over the past 5 years, she has recruited over 50 new faculty members and is working to enhance the clinical, educational and research programs in the Department.
Her research interests have been in Developmental Pulmonary Vascular Biology and her laboratory has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 28 years. As head of the Developmental Pulmonary Biology Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Raj is studying the mechanisms that control the pulmonary circulation in the fetus and newborn, and is trying to understand why some babies develop problems related to the lung blood vessels while others do not.
Her work has established and defined the very important role of pulmonary veins in regulation of microvascular pressures, fluid filtration and blood flow in the fetal and neonatal lungs. Her laboratory has identified the very important role of cGMP dependent protein kinase and its mechanisms of action on the pulmonary vasculature during the transition from fetal to neonatal life. Her group has identified a unique role for reactive species in protein modification and vascular function in the transition from fetal to neonatal pulmonary circulation. More recently her group is exploring the role of microRNAs in the regulation of the pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cell and pulmonary vascular re-modeling in Pulmonary Hypertension.
Dr. Raj and other members of her research team, including Guofei Zhou, PhD, Ram Ramchandran PhD, Tianji Chen PhD, Qiyuan Zhou, and Miranda Sun are researching the role of microRNA 17-92 cluster in PH. .
She is actively involved in fellow education and mentors fellows and students in her laboratory. As a department Head she is increasing the number of pediatricians in the academic research track and the number of women in leadership positions. She has trained over 25 fellows, several of whom are pursuing academic careers. She welcomes students, residents and fellows into her laboratory.