Rajashekhar Gangaraju

Assistant Professor
Anatomy and Neurobiology

MEMPHIS TN 381632243
Tel: (901) 448-2721


  • PostDoc, Indiana University School of Medicine, Vascular Biology
  • Ph.D., National University of Singapore, School of Medicine, Molecular Biology

Research Team Members

Raji Lenin

Raji Lenin, PhD
Postdoc Fellow

Dr. Lenin brings a wealth of documented experience in endoplasmic reticulum stress as learned in pancreatic islet cells to retinal endothelial cells. She is exploring the synergistic effects of inflammation and hyperglycemia mediated endoplasmic reticulum stress in the neurovascular defects of diabetic retinopathy.  

Kumar Jha, PhD
Postdoc Fellow

Dr. Jha is a neurobiologist by training having obtained PhD in Visual Neuroscience at the All India. Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. Dr. Jha exploring the role of Muller and Microglial activation in the visual deficits of traumatic brain injury.

Jordy T. Gentry, BS
Sr Research Assistant

Mr. Gentry has a BA in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Mr. Gentry brings a wealth of experience in coordinating studies to quality assurance. He plays a vital role in the mouse colony maintenance to histological support in all pre-clinical experiments.

Samuel M. Thomas, BS
Research Assistant

Mr. Thomas has a BA in Biology with a minor in Psychology. Mr. Thomas is driven to be a physician-scientist will spend a year in the laboratory. He is exploring the effects of adipose stem cells on endothelial activation in addition their therapeutic benefit in retinal ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Research Keywords

Diabetes; Retinopathy; Traumatic Brain Injury; Adult stem cells; Mesenchymal stem cells; adipose stem cells; adipose stromal cells; Pericyte; Apoptosis; Neurodegeneration; Angiogenesis; ER Stress, Unfolded Protein Response, Endothelial activation.

Research Interest/Specialty

My research program’s focuses on retinal neurovascular biology, specifically studying basic vascular mechanisms and neurodegeneration concepts for their potential for translational research. We use two approaches: 1) Adult stem cell therapies and 2) drug target ID/validation. I am funded by National Eye Institute and Department of Defense to study the mechanisms and mediators underlying the roles of adult stem cells from adipose tissue in retinal diseases. We primarily utilize preclinical in vitro and in vivo models to investigate the potential of our findings for clinical translation, with the long-term goal of advancing clinical management of diabetic retinopathy, age related macular degeneration and visual deficits of traumatic brain injury. In the second program, we explore the role for ER stress in dysfunctional neurovascular retina and its link to endothelial activation with the long-term goal to identify novel targets to treat diabetic retinopathy. This program is in part funded by International Retinal Research Foundation and others via postdoc fellowship grants to the lab.

By training, I am a cell biologist with experience in Physiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Pharmacology with special interest in neurovascular biology.


  1. Lenin, R, Thomas, SM, Gangaraju, R. Endothelial activation and Oxidative stress in neurovascular defects of retina. Curr Pharm Des, 2019.
  2. Soni, H, Matthews, AT, Pallikkuth, S, Gangaraju, R, Adebiyi, A. γ-secretase inhibitor DAPT mitigates cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury by suppressing Notch1 signaling. J Cell Mol Med, 23 (1), 260-270, 2019.
  3. Soni, H, Kaminski, D, Gangaraju, R, Adebiyi, A. Cisplatin-induced oxidative stress stimulates renal Fas ligand shedding. Ren Fail, 40 (1), 314-322, 2018.
  4. Elshaer, SL, Evans, W, Pentecost, M, Lenin, R, Periasamy, R, Jha, KA, Alli, S, Gentry, J, Thomas, SM, Sohl, N, Gangaraju, R. Adipose stem cells and their paracrine factors are therapeutic for early retinal complications of diabetes in the Ins2 mouse. Stem Cell Res Ther, 9 (1), 322, 2018.
  5. Jha, KA, Pentecost, M, Lenin, R, Klaic, L, Elshaer, SL, Gentry, J, Russell, JM, Beland, A, Reiner, A, Jotterand, V, Sohl, N, Gangaraju, R. Concentrated Conditioned Media from Adipose Tissue Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Mitigates Visual Deficits and Retinal Inflammation Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Int J Mol Sci, 19 (7), 2018.
  6. Lenin R, Nagy P, Alli S, Rao V, Clauss M, Kompella U, Gangaraju R.. Critical role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in chronic endothelial activation induced visual deficits in tie2TNF mice. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 2018.
  7. Lenin, R; Nagy, P; Gentry, J; Gangaraju, R.. Deterioration of visual function mediated by senescence-associated endoplasmic reticulum stress in inflammatory tie2-TNF mice.. Experimental Biology and Medicine., 243 (12), 976-984, 2018.
  8. Periasamy R, Elshaer SL, Gangaraju R.. CD140b (PDGFRβ) signaling in adipose-derived stem cells mediates angiogenic behavior of retinal endothelial cells.. Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine (In Press)., 2018.
  9. Bhattacharya, S, Gangaraju, R, Chaum, E. Recent Advances in Retinal Stem Cell Therapy. Curr Mol Biol Rep, 3 (3), 172-182, 2017.
  10. Periasamy R., Gangaraju R.. Regenerative Therapies for Retinopathy.. In: Steinhoff G. (eds) Regenerative Medicine - from Protocol to Patient. Springer, Cham, 2016. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016.
  11. Basavarajappa, HD, Lee, B, Lee, H, Sulaiman, RS, An, H, Magaña, C, Shadmand, M, Vayl, A, Rajashekhar, G, Kim, EY, Suh, YG, Lee, K, Seo, SY, Corson, TW. Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Novel Homoisoflavonoids for Retinal Neovascularization. J Med Chem, 58 (12), 5015-27, 2015.
  12. Rajashekhar, G, Ramadan, A, Abburi, C, Callaghan, B, Traktuev, DO, Evans-Molina, C, Maturi, R, Harris, A, Kern, TS, March, KL. Regenerative therapeutic potential of adipose stromal cells in early stage diabetic retinopathy. PLoS One, 9 (1), e84671, 2014.
  13. Basavarajappa, HD, Lee, B, Fei, X, Lim, D, Callaghan, B, Mund, JA, Case, J, Rajashekhar, G, Seo, SY, Corson, TW. Synthesis and mechanistic studies of a novel homoisoflavanone inhibitor of endothelial cell growth. PLoS One, 9 (4), e95694, 2014.
  14. Corson, TW, Samuels, BC, Wenzel, AA, Geary, AJ, Riley, AA, McCarthy, BP, Hanenberg, H, Bailey, BJ, Rogers, PI, Pollok, KE, Rajashekhar, G, Territo, PR. Multimodality imaging methods for assessing retinoblastoma orthotopic xenograft growth and development. PLoS One, 9 (6), e99036, 2014.
  15. Rajashekhar, G. Mesenchymal stem cells: new players in retinopathy therapy. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne), 5, 59, 2014.
  16. Rajashekhar, G, Shivanna, M, Kompella, UB, Wang, Y, Srinivas, SP. Role of MMP-9 in the breakdown of barrier integrity of the corneal endothelium in response to TNF-α. Exp Eye Res, 122, 77-85, 2014.
  17. Green, LA, Petrusca, D, Rajashekhar, G, Gianaris, T, Schweitzer, KS, Wang, L, Justice, MJ, Petrache, I, Clauss, M. Cigarette smoke-induced CXCR3 receptor up-regulation mediates endothelial apoptosis. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol, 47 (6), 807-14, 2012.
  18. Green, LA, Kim, C, Gupta, SK, Rajashekhar, G, Rehman, J, Clauss, M. Pentoxifylline reduces tumor necrosis factor-α and HIV-induced vascular endothelial activation. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses, 28 (10), 1207-15, 2012.
  19. Dhong, ES, Hwang, NH, Kim, DW, Rajashekhar, G, Johnstone, BH, March, KL. Morphologic changes in photodamaged organotypic human skin culture after treatment of autologous adipose-derived stromal cells. J Craniofac Surg, 23 (3), 805-11, 2012.
  20. Rajashekhar, G, Gupta, A, Marin, A, Friedrich, J, Willuweit, A, Berg, DT, Cramer, MS, Sandusky, GE, Sutton, TA, Basile, DP, Grinnell, BW, Clauss, M. Soluble thrombomodulin reduces inflammation and prevents microalbuminuria induced by chronic endothelial activation in transgenic mice. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol, 302 (6), F703-12, 2012.
  21. Clauss, M, Voswinckel, R, Rajashekhar, G, Sigua, NL, Fehrenbach, H, Rush, NI, Schweitzer, KS, Yildirim, AÃ, Kamocki, K, Fisher, AJ, Gu, Y, Safadi, B, Nikam, S, Hubbard, WC, Tuder, RM, Twigg, HL, Presson, RG, Sethi, S, Petrache, I. Lung endothelial monocyte-activating protein 2 is a mediator of cigarette smoke-induced emphysema in mice. J Clin Invest, 121 (6), 2470-9, 2011.
  22. Rajashekhar, G, Kamocka, M, Marin, A, Suckow, MA, Wolter, WR, Badve, S, Sanjeevaiah, AR, Pumiglia, K, Rosen, E, Clauss, M. Pro-inflammatory angiogenesis is mediated by p38 MAP kinase. J Cell Physiol, 226 (3), 800-8, 2011.
  23. Shivanna, M, Rajashekhar, G, Srinivas, SP. Barrier dysfunction of the corneal endothelium in response to TNF-alpha: role of p38 MAP kinase. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 51 (3), 1575-82, 2010.
  24. Diab, KJ, Adamowicz, JJ, Kamocki, K, Rush, NI, Garrison, J, Gu, Y, Schweitzer, KS, Skobeleva, A, Rajashekhar, G, Hubbard, WC, Berdyshev, EV, Petrache, I. Stimulation of sphingosine 1-phosphate signaling as an alveolar cell survival strategy in emphysema. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 181 (4), 344-52, 2010.
  25. Rajashekhar, G, Mitnacht-Kraus, R, Ispe, U, Garrison, J, Hou, Y, Taylor, B, Petrache, I, Vestweber, D, Clauss, M. A monoclonal rat anti-mouse EMAP II antibody that functionally neutralizes pro- and mature-EMAP II in vitro. J Immunol Methods, 350 (1-2), 22-8, 2009.
  26. Zhang, Y, Herbert, BS, Rajashekhar, G, Ingram, DA, Yoder, MC, Clauss, M, Rehman, J. Premature senescence of highly proliferative endothelial progenitor cells is induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha via the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. FASEB J, 23 (5), 1358-65, 2009.
  27. Hu, W, Criswell, MH, Fong, SL, Temm, CJ, Rajashekhar, G, Cornell, TL, Clauss, MA. Differences in the temporal expression of regulatory growth factors during choroidal neovascular development. Exp Eye Res, 88 (1), 79-91, 2009.
  28. Rajashekhar, G, Traktuev, DO, Roell, WC, Johnstone, BH, Merfeld-Clauss, S, Van Natta, B, Rosen, ED, March, KL, Clauss, M. IFATS collection: Adipose stromal cell differentiation is reduced by endothelial cell contact and paracrine communication: role of canonical Wnt signaling. Stem Cells, 26 (10), 2674-81, 2008.
  29. Rajashekhar, G, Grow, M, Willuweit, A, Patterson, CE, Clauss, M. Divergent and convergent effects on gene expression and function in acute versus chronic endothelial activation. Physiol Genomics, 31 (1), 104-13, 2007.
  30. Hou, Y, Plett, PA, Ingram, DA, Rajashekhar, G, Orschell, CM, Yoder, MC, March, KL, Clauss, M. Endothelial-monocyte-activating polypeptide II induces migration of endothelial progenitor cells via the chemokine receptor CXCR3. Exp Hematol, 34 (8), 1125-32, 2006.
  31. Rajashekhar G, Willuweit A, Patterson CE, Sun P, Hilbig A, Breier G, Helisch A, Clauss M.. Continuous endothelial cell activation increases angiogenesis: evidence for the direct role of endothelium linking angiogenesis and inflammation.. Journal of Vascular Research, 2 (43), 193-204, 2006.
  32. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Chong SS, Wong YC.. Hypoxia up-regulated angiogenin and down-regulated vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 expression and secretion in human placental trophoblasts.. J Soc Gynecol Investig, 12 (5), 310-319, 2005.
  33. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Chong SS, Wong YC.. Extracellular matrix-dependent regulation of angiogenin expression in human placenta.. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 1 (96), 36-46, 2005.
  34. Aradhana R, Rajashekhar G, Roy AC, Annapoorna V, Dramusic V, Choolani M, Wong PC.. Estrogen receptor alpha gene PvuII polymorphism and polycystic ovary syndrome.. Ann Acad Med Singapore., 33 (5), S89-90, 2004.
  35. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Mongelli JM.. Co-expression of Fas (APO-1, CD95)/Fas ligand by BeWo and NJG choriocarcinoma cell lines.. Gynecol Oncol., 91 (1), 101-11, 2003.
  36. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Mongelli JM.. Resistance to Fas-mediated cell death in BeWo and NJG choriocarcinoma cell lines: implications in immune privilege.. Gynecol Oncol., 91 (1), 89-100, 2003.
  37. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Wong YC.. Over-expression and secretion of angiogenin in intrauterine growth retardation placenta.. Mol Reprod Dev, 64 (4), 397-404, 2003.
  38. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Wong YC.. Expression and secretion of the vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 in human placenta and its decrease in fetal growth restriction.. J Soc Gynecol Investig., 10 (6), 352-60, 2003.
  39. Rajashekhar G, Loganath A, Roy AC, Wong YC.. Expression and localization of angiogenin in placenta: enhanced levels at term over first trimester villi.. Mol Reprod Dev, 62 (2), 159-66, 2002.
  40. V. R. R.Kasinadhuni, G.Rajashekhar, R.Rajagopalan et al.. Anti-ulcer potential of Haldinia cardifolia.. Fitoterpia, 70, 93-95, 1999.