Allergy and immunology expert to join VCU as new vice president for research and innovation

P. Srirama Rao comes to VCU from the University of Minnesota, where he serves as associate dean for research in the College of Veterinary Medicine

P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., an allergy and immunology expert, has been named the new vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University, effective Oct. 1.  

P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D.
P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D.

Rao comes to VCU from the University of Minnesota, where he is professor and associate dean for research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and holds a joint appointment in the medical school as professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. He has served as the chair of the University of Minnesota systemwide Council of Research Associate Deans as well as chair of the university’s Academic Health Center Deans Council. 

“Dr. Rao’s collaborative working style and a strong passion for engaging with the community is impressive,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “He has the vision, qualifications, experience and commitment to collaboration that will be the keys to his success as vice president for research and innovation."

At Minnesota, Srirama Rao led the college through two strategic planning processes and successful implementation of its key signature programs. He also led a transdisciplinary international effort of “One Medicine One Science” aimed at advancing the science behind “One Health,” an approach to design and implement research, programs, policies and legislation to achieve better public health outcomes. This effort included the University of Minnesota’s “International Conference on One Medicine One Science,” a highly acclaimed one health global forum dedicated to communicating the importance of science in solving pressing societal health issues.

“As a premier urban, public research university, VCU has enormous talent, strong leadership and a great sense of collegiality across the campus. VCU is well-positioned to lead the region and the nation in developing the best basic, translational and applied science research as well as in addressing societal grand challenges,” Srirama Rao said. “Clearly, no one person can do it alone and it truly takes a team effort. I look forward to joining VCU's team to build upon the strong record of research and innovation and facilitating in any way I can the success of the students, faculty and staff in their research endeavors.”

Prior to joining the University of Minnesota in 2007, Rao was vice president of research and professor and head of the Division of Vascular Biology at the La Jolla Institute for Molecular Medicine in San Diego, California.

Rao earned his Ph.D. in allergy and immunology from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, after which he conducted post-doctoral studies at Pharmacia-Experimental Medicine in La Jolla, California. His laboratory research focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of allergic inflammation including asthma and food allergy.

Rao replaces Francis Macrina, who has served in the role for more than 13 years and will remain at VCU, transitioning to the School of Dentistry where he holds the Edward Myers Chair in Dentistry.  

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and