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Ganesh Rao, M.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Division of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Ganesh Rao is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson CancerCenter. He has been a faculty member since 2006. Dr. Rao is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Brain Tumor Society's Young Investigator Award and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Preuss Award for Excellence in Basic Neurosurgical Research. Dr. Rao's laboratory efforts are focused on modeling the genetic basis of malignant gliomas in mice and he is currently supported by the National Institutes of Health. His clinical interests include the surgical management of primary and metastatic brain tumors. He also has significant experience with the surgical management of primary and metastatic spinal column tumors. He has authored over 50 manuscripts on a wide variety of topics in neurosurgical oncology. He has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report and Best Doctors in America.


Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1400 Holcombe Boulevard, FC7.2000
Unit Number: 442
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-792-2400
Fax: 713-794-4950

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1998 University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, MD, Medicine
1994 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, BS, Cum Laude, Microbiology
1994 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, BS, Cum Laude, Chemistry

Postgraduate Training

2005-2006 Clinical Fellowship, Neurosurgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
1999-2005 Clinical Residency, Neurosurgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
1998-1999 Clinical Internship, General Surgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Board Certifications

2009 American Board of Neurological Surgery

Experience/Service

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 7/2006-8/2012
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Division of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 7/2006-6/2012

Honors and Awards

2011-present Best Doctors in America
2011 Preuss Foundation Research Award, American Association of Neurological Surgeons
2010 American Brain Tumor Association Young Investigator Award, Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS)
2006 Eisenberg Fellowship Award, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2006 Young Oncologist Travel Award, American Radium Society
2002 Academy Award for Resident Research, American Academy of Neurological Surgeons
2002 Resident Research Award, Rocky Mountain Neurosurgical Society
1998 Medical Honor Society, Alpha Omega Alpha
1998 Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Arizona College of Medicine
1997 Van Winkle Medical Student Research Award, University of Arizona College of Medicine
1995 Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship Award, University of Arizona College of Medicine
1990-1994 Arizona Board of Regents Academic Waiver, University of Arizona

Professional Memberships

American Association for Cancer Research
Member, 8/2012-present
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Member, 2006-present
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Member, 2006-present
Society for Neuro-Oncology
Member, 8/2012-present
Texas Medical Association, Houston, TX
Member, 9/2007

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Gressot LV, Doucette TA, Yang Y, Fuller GN, Heimberger AB, Bögler O, Rao A, Latha K, Rao G. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 5b drives malignant progression in a PDGFB-dependent proneural glioma model by suppressing apoptosis. Int J Cancer, 10/2014.
2. Trinh VT, Fahim DK, Maldaun MV, Shah K, McCutcheon IE, Rao G, Lang F, Weinberg J, Sawaya R, Suki D, Prabhu SS. Impact of Preoperative Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging during Awake Craniotomy Procedures for Intraoperative Guidance and Complication Avoidance. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 92(5):315-322, 9/2014.
3. Sheu T, Heymach JV, Swisher SG, Rao G, Weinberg JS, Mehran R, McAleer MF, Liao Z, Aloia TA, Gomez DR. Propensity Score-Matched Analysis of Comprehensive Local Therapy for Oligometastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer That Did Not Progress After Front-Line Chemotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys, 9/2014. PMID: 25216859.
4. Schrand B, Berezhnoy A, Brennerman R, Williams A, Levay A, Kong LY, Rao G, Zhou S, Heimberger AB, Gilboa E. Targeting 4-1BB costimulation to the tumor stroma with bispecific aptamer conjugates enhances the therapeutic index of tumor immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Res 2(9). e-Pub 9/2014.
5. Hu J, Yan J, Rao G, Latha K, Overwijk WW, Heimberger AB, Li S. The Duality of Fgl2 - Secreted Immune Checkpoint Regulator Versus Membrane-Associated Procoagulant: Therapeutic Potential and Implications. Int Rev Immunol. e-Pub 9/2014.
6. Maldaun MV, Khawja SN, Levine NB, Rao G, Lang FF, Weinberg JS, Tummala S, Cowles CE, Ferson D, Nguyen AT, Sawaya R, Suki D, Prabhu SS. Awake craniotomy for gliomas in a high-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging suite: analysis of 42 cases. J Neurosurg, 8/2014. e-Pub 8/2014.
7. Xu S, Wei J, Wang F, Kong LY, Ling XY, Nduom E, Gabrusiewicz K, Doucette T, Yang Y, Yaghi NK, Fajt V, Levine JM, Qiao W, Li XG, Lang FF, Rao G, Fuller GN, Calin GA, Heimberger AB. Effect of miR-142-3p on the M2 macrophage and therapeutic efficacy against murine glioblastoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 106(8):pii:dju 162, 08/2014, 8/2014. e-Pub 6/2014.
8. Shahar T, Rozovski U, Marko NF, Tummala S, Ziu M, Weinberg JS, Rao G, Kumar VA, Sawaya R, Prabhu SS. Preoperative imaging to predict intraoperative changes in tumor-to-corticospinal tract distance: an analysis of 45 cases using high-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging. Neurosurgery 75(1):23-30, 7/2014.
9. Ahmed S, Hamilton J, Colen R, Schellingerhout D, Vu T, Rao G, McAleer MF, Mahajan A. Change in postsurgical cavity size ithin the first 30 days correlates with extentof surrounding edema: consequences for postoperative radiosurgery. J Comput Assist Tomogr 38(3):457-460, 6/2014. PMID: 24681852.
10. Tsai CJ, Wang Y, Allen PK, Mahajan A, McCutcheon IE, Rao G, Rhines LD, Tatsui CE, Armstrong TS, Maor MH, Chang EL, Brown PK, Li J. Outcomes after surgery and radiotheapy for spinal myxopapillary ependymoma:update of the MD Andeson Cancer Center experience. Neurosurgery 75(3):205-14, 09/2014, 5/2014. e-Pub 5/2014. PMID: 24818785.
11. Doucette T, Latha K, Yang Y, Fuller GN, Rao A, Rao G. Survivin transcript variant 2 drives angiogenesis and malignant progression in proneural gliomas. Neuro Oncology. e-Pub 3/2014. PMID: 24676140.
12. Tatsui CE, Suki D, Rao G, Kim SS, Salaskar A, Hatiboglu MA, Gokaslan ZL, McCutcheon IE, Rhines LD. Factors affecting survival in 267 consecutive patients undergoing surgery for spinal metastasis from renal cell carcinoma. J Neurosurg Spine 20(1):108-16, 01/2014, 1/2014. e-Pub 11/2013. PMID: 24206037.
13. Beiko J, Suki D, Hess KR, Fox BD, Cheung V, Cabral M, Shonka N, Gilbert MR, Sawaya R, Prabhu SS, Weinberg J, Lang FF, Aldape KD, Sulman EP, Rao G, McCutcheon IE, Cahill DP. IDH1 mutant malignant astrocytomas are more amenable to surgical resection and have a survival benefit associated with maximal surgical resection. Neuro Oncology 16(1), 01/2014. e-Pub 12/2013. PMCID: PMC3870823.
14. Bhat KP, Balasubramanjyan V, Vaillant B, Ezhilarasan R, Hummelink K, Hollingsworth F, Wani K, Heathcock L, James JD, Goodman LD, Conroy S, Long L, Lelic N, Wang S, Gumin J, Raj D, Kodama Y, Raghunathan A, Olar A, Joshi K, Pelloski CE, Heimberger A, Kim SH, Cahill DP, Rao G, Den Dunnen WF, Boddeke HW, Phillips HS, nakano I, Lang FF, Colman H, Sulman EP, Aldape K. Mesenchymal differentiation mediated by NF-kB promotes radiation resistance in glioblastoma. Cancer Cell 24(3):331-46, 09/09/2013, 9/2013. e-Pub 8/2013. PMCID: PMC3817560.
15. Wei J, Wang F, Kong LY, Xu S, Doucette T, Ferguson SD, Yang Y, McEnery K, Jethwa K, Gjyshi O, Qiao W, Levine NB, Lang FF, Rao G, Fuller GN, Calin GA, Heimberger AB. miR-124 inhibits STAT3 signaling to enhance T cell-mediated immune clearance of glioma. Cancer Research 73(13):3913-26, 07/01/2013, 7/2013. e-Pub 5/2013. PMCID: PMC3780786.
16. Doucette TA, Rao G, Rao A, Shen L, Aldape KD, Wei J, Dziurzynski K, Gilbert MR, Heimberger AB. Immune heterogeneity of glioblastoma subtypes: Extrapolation from the cancer genome atlas. Cancer Immunology Research. e-Pub 6/2013. PMCID: PMC3881271.
17. Gadgil N, Kupferman M, Smitherman S, Fuller GN, Rao G. Curvularia brain abscess. J Clin Neurosci 20(1):173-5, 1/2013. e-Pub 9/2012. PMID: 22989791.
18. Feiz-Erfan I, Fox BD, Nader R, Suki D, Chakrabarti I, Mendel E, Gokasian ZL, Rao G, Rhines LD. Surgical treatment of sacral metastases: indications and results. J Neurosurg Spine 17(4):285-91, 08/17/2012, 10/2012. PMID: 22900506.
19. Doucette TA, Kong LY, Yang Y, Ferguson SD, Yang J, Wei J, Qiao W, Fuller GN, Bhat KP, Aldape K, Priebe W, Bögler O, Heimberger AB, Rao G. The signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 enhances malignant progression in glioma. Neuro Oncol 14(9):1136-45, 06/29/2012, 9/2012. e-Pub 6/2012. PMCID: PMC3424209.
20. Crowley RW, Asthagiri AR, Starke RM, Zusman EE, Chiocca EA, Lonser RR; Research Committee of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. In-training factors predictive of choosing and sustaining a productive academic career path in neurological surgery. Neurosurgery 70(4):1024-32, 4/2012. PMID: 21946503.
21. Doucette TA, Yang Y, Pedone C, Kim JYH, Dubuc A, Northcutt PD, Taylor MD, Fults DW, Rao G. WIP1 Enhances Tumor Formation in a Sonic Hedgehog-Dependent Model of Medulloblastoma. Neurosurgery 70(4):1003-10, 4/2012. PMID: 22037313.
22. Schapiro R, Ferson D, Prabhu SS, Tummula S, Wefel J, Rao G. A technique for mapping cortical areas associated with speech arrest. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 90(2). e-Pub 3/2012. PMID: 22398728.
23. Viswanathan A, Abd-El-Barr MM, Doppenberg E, Suki D, Gokaslan Z, Mendel E, Rao G, Rhines LD. Initial experience with the use of an expandable titanium cage as a vertebral body replacement inpatients with tumors of the spinal column: a report of 95 patients. Eur Spine J 21(1):84-92, 1/2012. e-Pub 6/2011. PMID: 21681631.
24. Aizenberg MR, Fox BD, Suki D, McCutcheon IE, Rao G, Rhines LD. Surgical managment of unknown primary tumors metastatic to the spine. J Neurosurg Spine 16(1):86-92, 1/2012. e-Pub 10/2011. PMID: 21981272.
25. Bhat KP, Salazar KL, Balasubramaniyan V, Wani K, Heathcock L, Hollingsworth F, James JD, Gumin J, Diefes KL, Kim SH, Turski A, Azodi Y, Yang Y, Doucette T, Colman H, Sulman EP, Lang FF, Rao G, Copray S, Vaillant BD, Aldape KD. The transcriptional coactivator TAZ regulates mesenchymal differentiation in malignant glioma. Genes Dev 25(24):2594-609, 12/2011. PMCID: PMC3248681.
26. Xu J, Sampath D, Lang FF, Prabhu S, Rao G, Fuller GN, Liu Y, Puduvalli VK. Vorinostat modulates cell cycle regulatory proteins in glioma cells and human glioma slice cultures. J Neurooncol 105(2):241-51, 11/2011. PMID: 21598070.
27. Doucette T, Rao G, Yang Y, Gumin J, Shinojima N, Bekele BN, Qiao W, Zhang W, Lang FF. Mesenchymal stem cells display tumor specific tropism in an RCAS/Ntv-a glioma model. Neoplasia 13(8):716-25, 8/2011. PMCID: PMC3156662.
28. Dziurzynski K, Wei J, Qiao W, Hatiboglu MA, Kong LY, Wu A, Wang Y, Cahill D, Levine NB, Prabhu S, Rao G, Sawaya R, Heimberger AB. Glioma-associated cytomegalovirus mediates subversion of the monocyte lineage to a tumor propagating phenotype. Clin Cancer Res 17(14):4642-9, 7/2011. PMCID: PMC3139801.
29. Doucette T, Yang Y, Zhang W, Fuller GN, Suki D, Fults DW, Rao G. Bcl-2 promotes malignant progression in a PDGF-B dependent murine model of oligodendroglioma. Int J Cancer 129(9):2093-2103, 3/2011. e-Pub 12/2010. PMCID: PMC3196817.
30. Doucette TA, Rao G. B-cell lymphoma-2 promotes malignant progression in glioma. Clin Neurosurg 58:149-54, 2011. PMID: 21916141.
31. Prahbu S, Gasco J, Tummala S, Mahajan NM, Weinberg J, Rao G. Intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging-guided tractography with integrated monopolar subcortical functional mapping for resection of brain tmors. J Neurosurg, 10/2010.
32. Kong LY, Wu A, Doucette T, Wei J, Priebe W, Fuller G, Qiao W, Sawaya R, Rao G, Heimberger AB. Intratumoral mediated immunosuppression is prognostic in genetically engineered murine models of glioma and correlates to immune therapeutic response. Clinical Cancer Research 16(23):5722-33, 10/2010. PMCID: PMC2999668.
33. Hassaneen W, Levine NB, Suki D, Salaskar AL, de Moura Lima A, McCutcheon IE, Prabhu SS, Lang FF, Demonte F, Rao G, Weinberg JS, Wildrick DM, Aldape KD, Sawaya R. Multiple craniotomies in the management of multifocal and multicentric glioblastoma. J Neurosurg, 8/2010. e-Pub 8/2010. PMID: 20690813.
34. Hatiboglu MA, Weinberg JS, Suki D, Tummala S, Rao G, Sawaya R, Prabhu SS. Utilization of intraoperative motor mapping in glioma surgery with high-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 88(6):345-352, 08/21/2010, 8/2010. PMID: 20733348.
35. Rao G, Chang GJ, Suk I, Gokaslan Z, Rhines LD. Midsacral amputation for en bloc resection of chordoma. Neurosurgery 66(3 Suppl Operative):41-4, 3/2010.
36. Smitherman SM, Tatsui CE, Rao G, Walsh G, Rhines LD. Image-guided multilevel vertebral osteotomies for en bloc resection of giant cell tumor of the thoracic spine: case report and description of operative technique. Eur Spine J. e-Pub 1/2010. PMID: 20069317.
37. Humphries W, Wang Y, Qiao W, Reina-Ortiz C, Abou-Ghazal MK, Crutcher LM, Wei J, Kong LY, Sawaya R, Rao G, Weinberg J, Prabhu SS, Fuller GN, Heimberger AB. yuDetecting the percent of peripheral blood mononuclear cells displaying p-STAT-3 in malignant glioma patients. J Transl Med 7:92, 11/2009. PMCID: PMC2777138.
38. Rao G, Giordano SH, Liu J, McCutcheon IE. The association of breast cancer and meningioma in men and women. Neurosurgery 65(3):483-489, 9/2009. PMID: 19687693.
39. Williams BJ, Suki D, Fox BD, Pelloski CE, Maldaun MVC, Sawaya RE, Lang FF, Rao G. Stereotactic radiosurgery for metastatic brain tumors: a comprehensive review of complications. J Neurosurg 111(3), Sept 2009. e-Pub 3/2009. PMID: 19301968.
40. Kong L-Y, Wei J , Sharma AK, Barr J, Abou-Ghazal MK, Fokt I, Weinberg J, Rao G, Grimm E, Priebe W, Heimberger AB. A novel phosphorylated STAT3 inhibitor enhances T cell cytotoxicity against melanoma through inhibition of regulatory T cells. Cancer Immunol Immunother 58(7):1023-1032, 2009. e-Pub 11/2008. PMCID: PMC2674523.
41. Hatiboglu MA, Weinberg JS, Suki D, Rao G, Prabhu SS, Shah K, Jackson E, Sawaya R. Impact of intraoperative high-field magnetic resonance imaging-guidance on glioma surgery: A prospective volumetric analysis. Neurosurgery 64(6), 2009.
42. Prabhu SS, Levine NB , Rao G , Shah K, Weinberg J. Report of negative diffusion –weighted MR imaging during tumor resections using intraoperative MRI. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 87(5):304-308, 2009. PMID: 19641341.
43. Fox BD, Patel A, Suki D, Rao G. Surgical management of metastatic sarcoma to the brain. J Neurosurg 110(1):181-186, 2009. PMID: 18834268.
44. Williams BJ, Fox BD, Scubba DM, Suki D, Tu SM, Kuban D, Gokaslan ZL, Rhines LD, Rao G. Surgical management of prostate cancer metastatic to the spine. J Neurosurg Spine 10:414-422, 2009.
45. Feiz-Erfan I, Rao G, White WL, McCutcheon IE. Efficacy of trans-septal trans-sphenoidal surgery in correcting visual symptoms caused by hematogenous metastases to the sella and pituitary gland. Skull Base 18:77-84, 2008. PMCID: PMC2435478.
46. Klimo P Jr, Kan P, Rao G, Apfelbaum R, Brockmeyer D. Os odontoideum: presentation, diagnosis, and treatment in a series of 78 patients. J Neurosurg Spine 9(4):332-342, 2008. PMID: 18939918.
47. Rao G, Suki D, Chakrabarti I, Feiz-Erfan I, Mody MG, McCutcheon IE, Gokaslan Z, Patel S, Rhines LD. Surgical management of primary and metastatic sarcoma of the mobile spine. J Neurosurg Spine 9(2):120-128, 2008. PMID: 18764743.

Invited Articles

1. Doucette TA, Rao G. B-cell lymphoma-2 promotes malignant progression in glioma. Neurosurgery 69 Suppl Operative:149-54, 9/2011.
2. Fox BD, Cheung VJ, Patel AJ, Suki D, Rao G. Epidemiology of metastatic brain tumors. Neurosurg Clin N Am 22(1):1-6, v., 1/2011. PMID: 21109143.
3. Abd-El-Barr MM, Rahman M, Rao G. Investigational therapies for brain metastases. Neurosurg Clin N Am 22(1):87-96, vii., 1/2011. PMID: 21109153.
4. D'Ambrosio AL, Rao G. Management of brain metastases - Preface. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 22(1):xi., 1/2011. PMID: 21109142.
5. Klimo P Jr, Rao G, Brockmeyer D. Congenital anomalies of the cervical spine. J Spinal Res Found 4(1):32-42, 2009.
6. Klimo P Jr, Rao G, Brockmeyer D. Congenital anomalies of the cervical spine. Neurosurg Clin N Am 18(3):463-78, 7/2007. PMID: 17678749.
7. Liu JK, Rao G, Schmidt MH, Couldwell WT. Far lateral transcondylar transtubercular approach to lesions of the ventral foramen magnum and craniovertebral junction. Contemporary Neurosurgery 29(10), 5/2007.
8. Mody M, Rao G, Rhines LD. Surgical management of spinal mesenchymal tumors. Current Oncology Report 8(4):297-304, 7/2006. PMID: 17254530.

Book Chapters

1. Klimo Jr P., Rao G, Rhines LD. Evaluation and Management of Spinal Axis Tumors: Metastatic. In: Youmans Neurological Surgery. 3, 6th. Ed(s) Winn HR. Elsevier Saunders: Philadelphia, PA, 3154-3165, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-4160-5316-3.
2. Chern JJ, Rao G, Lang FF. Medulloblastoma. In: Youmans Neurological Surgery. 2, 6th. Ed(s) Winn HR. Elsevier Saunders: Philadelphia, PA, 1373-1382, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-4160-5316-3.
3. Rao G. Osseous Tumors. In: Youmans Neurological Surgery. 2, 6th. Ed(s) Winn HR. Elsevier Saunders: Philadelphia, PA, 1648-1654, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-4160-5316-3.
4. Rao G, Li K, Sawaya R. Metastatic Tumor Resection. In: Fundamentals of Operative Techniques in Neurosurgery, 2nd. Ed(s) Conerly K, Pucek D. Thieme Medical Publishers: New York, 248-252, 2010.
5. Rao G, Klimo P Jr, McCutcheon IE, Mendel E. Development and Maturation of the Axial Skeleton: Developmental Abnormalities of the Cervical Spine. In: Atlas of Spine Trauma: Adult & Pediatric. Ed(s) Kim DH, Ludwig SC, Vaccaro AR, Chang J-C. WB Saunders: Philadelphia, PA, 475-488, 2008.
6. Ragel B, Amirlak B, Rao G, Couldwell W. Apoptosis in Glioma Cells: Review of the Literature. In: Cell Cycle in the Central Nervous System. Humana Press, Janigro D (ed): New York, 2006.
7. Rao G, Kestle JRW. Calvarial Tumors in Children. In: Neuro-Oncology of CNS Tumors. Springer, Tonn JC, Westphal M, Tutka JT, Grossman SA (eds): Berlin, 2006.
8. House P, Rao G, Couldwell W, Freese A, Simeone FA. Contemporary Applications of Functional and Stereotactic Techniques for Molecular Neurosurgery. In: Principles of Molecular Neurosurgery. Leone P, Janson C (eds), 2005.
9. Rao G, Apfelbaum. Dens Fractures. In: The Cervical Spine. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, clark CR (ed): Philadelphia, 2005.
10. Klimo P, Rao G, Apfelbaum RI. Microsurgical treatment of odontoid fractures. In: Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery. Springer, H.M. Mayer (eds): Berlin, 2005.
11. Rao G, Kestle JRW. Pleomorphic Xanthoastrocytoma. In: Textbook of Neuro-oncology. Saunders Berger MS, Prados MD (eds): Philadelphia, 2005.
12. Rao G, Apfelbaum R. Upper Cervical Screw Fixation Techniques. In: Spine and Spinal Cord Surgery. Zileli M, Ozer F (eds), 2004.

Books (edited and written)

1. Rabinstein A and Klimo Jr P. Ed(s) A Verma and SR Gibbs. Year Book of Neurology and Neurosurgery. In: The 2009 Year Book Series. Elsevier/Mosby, Inc. Philadelphia, 2009.

Last updated: 9/11/2014