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Robert Raffai, Ph.D.

Robert Raffai, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery

Contact Information

4150 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 9412
Phone: (415) 750-2115
Fax: (415) 750-2181
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  • 1986-90, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Canada, B.Sc., Biochemistry
  • 1990-93, University of Montreal, Canada, Other, Biochemistry
  • 1993-98, University of Ottawa, Canada, Ph.D., Biochemistry
  • 1997-01, J. David Gladstone Institutes, Postdoctoral Fellow, Mouse Models of Human Disease
  • 2001-04, J. David Gladstone Institutes, Postdoctoral Fellow, Mouse Models of Human Disease

Dr. Raffai earned a PhD in immunobiology of apolipoproteins and antibody engineering within the Lipoprotein Research Group at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in 1998. He subsequently trained extensively in lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis research as a postdoctoral fellow at the J. David Gladstone Institutes with Dr. Karl H. Weisgraber. He subsequently established a research program focused on exploring the biology of atherosclerosis within the Department of Surgery at UCSF and the VA Medical Center in San Francisco. He is currently Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of the Atherosclerosis Research Laboratory. Dr. Raffai's research program focusses on elucidating the interplay between metabolism and inflammation in atherosclerosis cardiovascular disease and heart failure. Through studies of mouse models developed in his laboratory, Dr. Raffai's team uncovered new pathways through which a protein called ApoE participates in suppressing the progression and in enhancing the regression of atherosclerosis. Their discovery linked ApoE metabolism to microRNA-control of immune cell activation and protection from atherosclerosis in mice with hyperlipidemia. The laboratory now explores how apoE expression in macrophages contributes to the regulated release of non-coding RNA including microRNA into exosomes that can be communicated to cells at a distance to influence inflammation and atherosclerosis. The lab also explores the role of apoE in altering the microRNA composition of plasma lipoproteins that can also serve as a source of extracellular communication. A  more recent topic in the lab include to explore how diabetic hyperglycemia alters the biogenesis and regulated release of microRNA in exosomes derived from myeloid cells, and how these exRNA can serve to enhance systemic and vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis. Our goal is to uncover mechanism through which to prevent microRNA dysregulation in myeloid cells of diabetic mice and to infuse exRNA as novel treatments for diabetic atherosclerosis. Dr. Raffai has trained four postdoctoral fellows and numerous college graduate students in the study of lipoprotein metabolism and immune cell regulation of atherosclerosis.

Most recent publications from a total of 40
  1. Raffai RL. MicroRNA-146a & hematopoiesis: friend or foe in atherosclerosis. Noncoding RNA Investig. 2018 Jul; 2. View in PubMed
  2. Bouchareychas L, Raffai RL. Apolipoprotein E and Atherosclerosis: From Lipoprotein Metabolism to MicroRNA Control of Inflammation. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2018 May 23; 5(2). View in PubMed
  3. Li K, Rodosthenous RS, Kashanchi F, Gingeras T, Gould SJ, Kuo LS, Kurre P, Lee H, Leonard JN, Liu H, Lombo TB, Momma S, Nolan JP, Ochocinska MJ, Pegtel DM, Sadovsky Y, Sánchez-Madrid F, Valdes KM, Vickers KC, Weaver AM, Witwer KW, Zeng Y, Das S, Raffai RL, Howcroft TK. Advances, challenges, and opportunities in extracellular RNA biology: insights from the NIH exRNA Strategic Workshop. JCI Insight. 2018 Apr 05; 3(7). View in PubMed
  4. Li K, Wong DK, Hong KY, Raffai RL. Cushioned-Density Gradient Ultracentrifugation (C-DGUC): A Refined and High Performance Method for the Isolation, Characterization, and Use of Exosomes. Methods Mol Biol. 2018; 1740:69-83. View in PubMed
  5. Li K, Wong DK, Luk FS, Kim RY, Raffai RL. Isolation of Plasma Lipoproteins as a Source of Extracellular RNA. Methods Mol Biol. 2018; 1740:139-153. View in PubMed
  6. Raffai R, Li K, Wong D, Hong J. Therapeutic control of systemic inflammation & atherosclerosis with ApoE-polarized macrophage exosomes. Atherosclerosis. 2017 Aug; 263:e5-e6. View in PubMed
  7. Baligand C, Qin H, True-Yasaki A, Gordon JW, von Morze C, Santos JD, Wilson DM, Raffai R, Cowley PM, Baker AJ, Kurhanewicz J, Lovett DH, Wang ZJ. Hyperpolarized 13 C magnetic resonance evaluation of renal ischemia reperfusion injury in a murine model. NMR Biomed. 2017 Oct; 30(10). View in PubMed
  8. Ceron CS, Baligand C, Joshi S, Wanga S, Cowley PM, Walker JP, Song SH, Mahimkar R, Baker AJ, Raffai RL, Wang ZJ, Lovett DH. An intracellular matrix metalloproteinase-2 isoform induces tubular regulated necrosis: implications for acute kidney injury. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2017 06 01; 312(6):F1166-F1183. View in PubMed
  9. Cheung KH, Keerthikumar S, Roncaglia P, Subramanian SL, Roth ME, Samuel M, Anand S, Gangoda L, Gould S, Alexander R, Galas D, Gerstein MB, Hill AF, Kitchen RR, Lötvall J, Patel T, Procaccini DC, Quesenberry P, Rozowsky J, Raffai RL, Shypitsyna A, Su AI, Théry C, Vickers K, Wauben MH, Mathivanan S, Milosavljevic A, Laurent LC. Extending gene ontology in the context of extracellular RNA and vesicle communication. J Biomed Semantics. 2016; 7:19. View in PubMed
  10. Tie G, Yan J, Messina JA, Raffai RL, Messina LM. Inhibition of p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Enhances the Apoptosis Induced by Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein in Endothelial Progenitor Cells. J Vasc Res. 2015; 52(6):361-71. View in PubMed
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