Sudha Rao

Professor and Head of the Gene Regulation and Translational Medicine Group at QIMR Berghofer in Queensland

Sudha Rao has extensive experience in transcriptional biology and genomic technologies that spans both pharmaceutical and academic settings. The primary focus of Professor Rao’s research group has been to unravel complex epigenetic-signatures in the immune system, as well as to understand the deregulatory mechanisms operating in cancer settings as well as the role of epigenetic regulation in viral infection. She has obtained her BSC (Hons.) degree at Keele University, UK. PhD from the University of London, Kings College in 2000. During this period, she joined a team of scientists at Rhone Poulenc/Sanofi Pharma, both in UK and France. During this time, she was part of one of the first groups world-wide to establish the clinical genomics platform for therapeutics in the UK. She has developed close partnerships with global technology companies and established novel liquid biopsy clinical platforms, first of its kind in Asia, for non-invasive tracking of blood samples from cancer patients. She has attracted highly competitive NHMRC, ARC and commercial funding to advance her cancer work. Sudha’s work has yielded national and international patents for both novel diagnostics and therapeutics in the emerging arena of immune-oncology as well as novel therapeutics and diagnostics for viral infections. Professor Rao has a 20-year track record in translational epigenetics in both academia and industry, where she has led drug development and biomarker discovery projects to take novel therapeutics from bench to clinic. This is evidenced by publications in highly ranked journals; continuing funding as lead CI on multiple NHRMC and ARC grants and substantive commercial funding (~10M last 5 years); active outreach, raising substantial philanthropic funds for basic and clinical research; lead inventor on 37 patents; several worldwide patents. Professor Rao has supervised as primary supervisor for 10 PhDs and 20 honours/masters and has mentored on ECR programs both in the teaching and research contexts. During her time in industry, she worked in drug discovery and clinical trials, developing drugs to tackle respiratory diseases, COPD, and asthma, paving the way for her current clinical epigenetics-based therapeutics and biomarker program and industrial partnerships. Her work has led to translational outcomes, an international patent portfolio, and EpiAxis Therapeutics, of which she is founder, director, and CSO (until commencing at QIMRB, 2020), with a successfully completed clinical trial; licencing partnership with Pharma to take novel immunotherapy approaches to the clinic.