Biraj Mahato, PhD

Assistant Professor of Research Ophthalmology

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Dr. Biraj Mahato earned his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Jadavpur University), India. He completed his postdoctoral training in Stem cell biology and Regenerative medicine from KU Medical Center, UPenn and UNT Health Science Center. Dr. Mahato has extensive expertise in diverse biological fields such as cellular reprogramming, stem cell biology, retinal regeneration, and mitochondrial biology. Dr. Mahato’s prior research demonstrated a facile small molecule-based method to obtain retinal photoreceptor like cells from skin fibroblasts. Strikingly, these chemically induced photoreceptors were shown to restore vision in blind animal models (rd1). Moreover, his research showed how mitochondrial function and cellular energy metabolism balances pluripotency in embryonic stem cells.

Dr. Mahato’s laboratory currently focused on the following areas: (i) Development of novel regenerative cell-based therapies for ophthalmic neurodegenerative diseases. (ii) Molecular and functional analysis of photoreceptors (rod and cone) and retinal ganglion cells for their therapeutic application to cure blindness. (iii) In vivo retinal regeneration for visual function improvement. (iii) Translation of clinically observed correlations into a mechanistic understanding of the physical and biological underpinning of neurological disorders that affect both the retina and optic nerve.


  • Glaucoma Research Foundation: Grant award, 2019
  • Cell Symposium Support Award, 2018
  • CSIR-IICB: Travel award to Gordon Research Conference, 2010
  • CSIR, Govt. of India : CSIR-Senior Research Fellowship, 2008
  • IIT: Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), 2006
  • CSIR, Govt. of India: CSIR-Junior Research Fellowship, 2006


  • Pharmacologic fibroblast reprogramming into photoreceptors restores vision Nature. 2020 05; 581(7806):83-88. . View in PubMed
  • Inhibition of Noncanonical Murine Double Minute 2 Homolog Abrogates Ocular Inflammation through NF-? B Suppression. Am J Pathol. 2018 09; 188(9):2087-2096.. View in PubMed
  • Stem Cells. 2014 Nov; 32(11):2880-92. . View in PubMed
  • Vesicular transport of a ribonucleoprotein to mitochondria Biol Open. 2014 Oct 17; 3(11):1083-91. . View in PubMed
  • Inhibition of protein kinase C signaling maintains rat embryonic stem cell pluripotency J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 23; 288(34):24351-62. . View in PubMed
  • Mitochondrial gene therapy: The tortuous path from bench to bedside Mitochondrion. 2011 Nov; 11(6):839-44. . View in PubMed
  • RNA-mediated restoration of mitochondrial function in cells harboring a Kearns Sayre Syndrome mutation Mitochondrion. 2011 Jul; 11(4):564-74. . View in PubMed
  • Targeted mRNA degradation by complex-mediated delivery of antisense RNAs to intracellular human mitochondria Hum Mol Genet. 2008 May 01; 17(9):1292-8. . View in PubMed