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Dr. Rao is internationally renowned for his research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and other somatic stem cells. He has worked in the stem cell field for more than 20 years, with stints in academia, government and regulatory affairs and industry. He received his M.D. from Bombay University in India and his Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. Following postdoctoral training at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, he established his research laboratory in neural development at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. He next joined the National Institute on Aging as chief of the Neurosciences Section, where he studied neural progenitor cells and continued to explore his longstanding interest in their clinical potential. He then spent six years as the vice president of Regenerative Medicine at Life Technologies, Carlsbad, Calif. Most recently, he returned in August 2011 to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as Director of the new NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH CRM). He co-founded Q Therapeutics, a neural stem cell company based in Salt Lake City. He also served internationally on advisory boards for companies involved in stem cell processing and therapy, on committees including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Cellular Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee chair, and as the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine and International Society for Stem Cell Research liaison to the International Society for Cellular Therapy.