McMaster University

Medical Sciences
Graduate Program

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Sandeep Raha

Sandeep Raha

BSc, MSc, PhD
Associate Professor

Research Interests

The programing of disease can be initiated in utero. The placenta, which is the only fully functional yet disposable organ, plays a central role in dictating the levels of nutrients, oxygen and regulatory growth signals available to the developing fetus. External insults, such as a high fat diet, or exposure to drugs during pregnancy can alter the function of the stem cells within the placenta. This can lead to poor metabolic "programming" of the fetus and contribute to life long health complication for the offspring.

My lab focuses on understanding how these external insults change the function of the stem cells within the placenta, referred to as trophoblasts. Specifically we focus on understanding the link between the changes in the function of these cells with the altered development of fetus. Using a rodent model of diet induced obesity, we have already demonstrated that the high fat diet induced changes in these cells can alter the development of the placenta and dramatically affect the survival of the fetus. Furthermore, we are interested in exploring how metabolic changes in the trophoblasts can lead to excessive production of free radicals within the placenta. Balanced free radical signaling is very important for good placental health. Since the placenta behaves like a tumor, many of the signaling pathways that we explore are paralleled in cancer biology.

By understanding, more clearly, the pathways that involved in linking maternal uterine stressors and fetal growth and survival we hope to develop therapeutic strategies which may target the very origins of disease. Improving "placental health" will impact a number of diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. All of these conditions have been demonstrated to have a strong association with in utero programing.

We utilize both cell culture and animal models to understand these processes and develop therapeutic strategies to minimizing the consequences of in utero stress on neonatal health. The range of techniques applied in my laboratory spans molecular approaches (advanced proteomics, RT-PCR, determination of DNA methylation patterns) to cellular (immunological approaches to determining protein expression, enzyme assays, live-cell microscopy; electron microscopy) to physiological methods (evaluation of blood pressure in rodents, determination of glucose tolerance, histology, immunochemistry). In association with clinical collaborators, the scope of the research in my group spans from molecules to humans.

In addition to the biomedical research in my laboratory, I am also the Co-founder of the McMaster Children’s and Youth University. This is a program that mentors undergraduates and graduate students in multidisciplinary science outreach aimed at middle school age youth. This unique skill set, which is quite different from the science communication taught in the research laboratory, provides connections to post-graduate employment opportunities. Additional information about my research program and Children’s Universities educational outreach opportunities can be found on my laboratory web-site: Raha Lab.


McMaster University
Health Sciences Centre

telephone: (905) 521-2100 ext. 76213
web: Raha Lab

Program Area

Metabolism & Nutrition

Research Focus

Mitochondria, Intracellular Signaling, Aging, Obesity, Hypoxia, Cell Culture, Skeletal Muscle, Cardiovascular, Apoptosis, Diagnostics, Oxidative Stress, Respiratory Chain Enzymes

Selected Publications

  • Hayes EK, Tessier DR, Percival ME, Holloway AC, Petrik JJ, Gruslin A, Raha S. Trophoblast invasion and blood vessel remodeling are altered in a rat model of lifelong maternal obesity. Reprod Sci. 2014 May; 21(5):648-57.
  • Fluoxetine-induced pancreatic beta cell dysfunction: New insight into the benefits of folic acid in the treatment of depression. De Long NE, Hyslop JR, Raha S, Hardy DB, Holloway AC.

    J Affect Disord. 2014 Sep;166:6-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.04.063. Epub 2014 May 4.

  • The effects of resting and exercise serum from children with cystic fibrosis on C2C12 myoblast proliferation in vitro. Nguyen T, Baker JM, Obeid J, Raha S, Parise G, Pedder L, Timmons BW. Physiol Rep. 2014 Jun 18;2(6). pii: e12042. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12042.

  • Raha S, Taylor VH, Holloway AC. Effect of atypical antipsychotics on fetal growth: is the placenta involved? J Pregnancy. 2012; Jul; 2012:315203.

  • Hayes EK, Lechowicz A, Petrik JJ, Storozhuk Y, Paez-Parent S, Dai Q, Samjoo IA, Mansell M, Gruslin A, Holloway AC, Raha S. Adverse fetal and neonatal outcomes associated with a life-long high fat diet: role of altered development of the placental vasculature. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33370.