Rana Chakraborty, M.D., D.Phil., is a pediatric infectious diseases specialist and researcher with unique expertise in placental and fetal immunology. He studies the impact of maternal infection on exposed infants and characterizes and publishes about infection of trophoblasts, cord blood and placental macrophages with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Toxoplasma gondii, the Zika virus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Dr. Chakraborty has also served as a leader in perinatal, pediatric and adolescent infectious diseases clinical trials, in medical education, and in basic science research. His work has been supported by intramural funding and by extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a principal investigator in clinical and laboratory research, initially at the University of Oxford in England and currently at Mayo Clinic.
- SARS-CoV-2 infection. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to the fetus may be protected by immune mechanisms in the placenta, although inflammation can occur. Dr. Chakraborty and his colleagues are characterizing placental and cord blood immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, with an aim of identifying host genetic and immune correlates in people who have poor outcomes.
- Perinatal HIV infection. Maternal antiretroviral therapy reduces but doesn't eliminate vertical transmission of HIV. In collaboration with Erica L. Johnson, Ph.D., of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Dr. Chakraborty is identifying viral immune responses at the maternal-fetal interface throughout gestation that impact fetal immunity during maternal HIV and cytomegalovirus infection.
- Neonatal immunity. Dr. Chakraborty and his lab team are seeking to understand immune signaling in placental cells and to define host factors that restrict infections in the placenta, including HIV, CMV and Zika.
- HIV-exposed infants. Cytomegalovirus reactivation during pregnancy in HIV-infected mothers is associated with poor health outcomes in HIV-exposed uninfected infants. In collaboration with Clive M. Gray, Ph.D., at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Dr. Chakraborty and his colleagues are examining how placental cells from co-infected pregnant women mobilize T cells to cause inflammation.
Significance to patient care
- SARS-CoV-2 infection. Dr. Chakraborty's proposed studies will determine whether SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted transplacentally and pinpoint therapeutic targets.
- Perinatal HIV infection. The ongoing research may contribute to the development of specific antiviral therapies to further reduce vertical transmission of HIV and improve clinical outcomes in HIV-exposed infants.
- Neonatal immunity. These studies can reveal therapeutic targets and provide insights into the development of vaccines to protect against infection with HIV, CMV and Zika.
- HIV-exposed infants. These studies could facilitate development of immunomodulatory and antiviral therapies targeting inflammation and CMV, ultimately leading to improved clinical outcomes in HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) infants from pregnant women coinfected with HIV and cytomegalovirus.
- Panel member, NIH AIDS Research Review Charter Committee, Infectious Diseases, Reproductive Health, Asthma and Pulmonary Conditions Study Section, 2020-2024
- Board of Directors, Infectious Diseases Society of America, 2020-2023
- Chair, Section on International Medical Graduates, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014-2019
- Chair, Faculty Committee on Appointments and Promotions, Emory University School of Medicine, 2017-2018
- Chair, Committee on Pediatric AIDS, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012-2016
- Clinical Innovation Award, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, 2012