Robert Raffai, PhD

+1 415 221-4810 ext. 22541
Research Overview: 

Dr. Raffai's research program focuses 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.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Vascular & Cardiac Biology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Research Summary: 
Our program explores the impact of metabolic stress on deregulated micro-RNA controlled hematopoiesis and immune cell function in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, including through intercellular signaling via exosomes


Featured Publications: 

Apolipoprotein E and Atherosclerosis: From Lipoprotein Metabolism to MicroRNA Control of Inflammation.

Journal of cardiovascular development and disease

Bouchareychas L, Raffai RL

Advances, challenges, and opportunities in extracellular RNA biology: insights from the NIH exRNA Strategic Workshop.

JCI insight

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