About Us

Research

Dr. Raha’s research focuses on understanding how obesity during pregnancy can affect the future health of the baby. He focuses on understanding the cellular communication between adipose tissue and the trophoblast cell—a type of stem cell that is central to the development of the placenta and growth and survival of the baby. Specifically, he is interested in the role of the mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell, in this process. Currently, his research is directed at understanding how obesity in mother affects the development and function of the placenta, using an animal model.

Knowledge Translation

Dr. Raha’s knowledge translation activities are directed at helping kids understanding what happens in their bodies when the eat poorly or don’t exercise enough. He hopes that this type of information, delivered using a fun, interactive style, will help to motivate and reinforce positive lifestyle changes.  Dr. Raha is also the co-founder of the Children and Youth University at McMaster (CY@Mac), an interactive lecture series organized for kids 8-14 years of age and designed to get them excited about a variety of science and social science topics.

Dr. Sandeep Raha, MSc. PhD.

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University

Dr. Raha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. He obtained his PhD. from the University of Toronto, Department of Biochemistry. His post-doctoral training was carried out the Hospital for Sick Children in the area of mitochondrial dysfunction and metabolic disease.  He then worked in the biotech as the manager of the molecular biology group of FONA Technologies designing and optimizing biosensors to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms. He started his own research program in 2007, in the Department of Pediatrics.

Research Program Overview

Obesity is one of the most significant health care issues of the 21st century because it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Obesity related dysfunction can potentially be initiated in utero. Children of obese mothers are at a higher risk of becoming obese and developing these risk factors later in life and this serves to further fuel the obesity epidemic. The environment of the fetus, in the womb, may contribute to the child being predisposed towards developing obesity related disorders as a result of metabolic reprogramming. Mitochondria are one of the central players in cellular metabolisms. They have been classically thought of as oval-shaped organelles responsible for generating ATP and supplying the cells energy demands. They are so much more!

My lab focuses on understanding the role of mitochondrial function/dysfunction in modulating uterine stress as a consequence of maternal obesity. We focus on how physiological stressors affect mitochondrial function and one of their primary by-products, reactive oxygen species. We are interested in understanding the role of mitochondria in contributing to fetal stress in the obese mother. Furthermore, we also focus on how in utero stress can affect mitochondrial function and signaling in dictating fetal and neonatal health of obese mothers. We utilize cell culture and animal models to understand these processes and develop therapeutic strategies to minimize the consequences of maternal obesity 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.