Vijay Ramani is interested in the mechanisms that control how genes are turned on or off in our cells. He develops molecular techniques that make it possible to monitor gene activity at the level of single cells and single molecules. With these techniques, Ramani and his team study how changes in genome organization affect gene activity, or how the same gene may produce different RNA molecules under different conditions. In turn, the team hopes to parlay this information into a better understanding of the molecular steps that lead to disease or maintain the pluripotency of stem cells.
Areas of Expertise
Organs and tissues are made of heterogeneous collections of cells. Studying them in bulk preparations does not afford the resolution necessary to decipher the precise mechanisms underlying normal organ formation or disease progression.
Vijay Ramani has been at the forefront of a technological wave called single-cell genomics, which seeks to probe genome and cell function at the level of individual cells. He has developed a method based on DNA barcodes that allows scientists to analyze the genome and gene products of thousands of individual cells at once without having to physically separate the cells. With one version of this high-throughput approach, called SciHi-C, he produced maps of the genome’s 3D organization for more than 10,000 individual cells—100 times more than had been possible with previous approaches. Another adaptation of his single-cell technology is a drug-screening platform he calls SciPlex, with which he can evaluate the impact of thousands of drugs on gene activity in one experiment.
More recently, Ramani has become interested in probing gene activity at the single-molecule level. He is adapting existing sequencing technology to the high-throughput analysis of the diverse RNA molecules individual genes can produce in response to various stimuli.
Assistant Investigator, Gladstone Institutes
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC San Francisco
Vijay Ramani, PhD, is an assistant investigator at Gladstone Institutes and an assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UC San Francisco (UCSF).
Prior to joining Gladstone, he was a Sandler Faculty Fellow at UCSF. Ramani holds a bachelor’s of science and engineering from Princeton University, and a PhD in genome sciences from the University of Washington, where he trained under Jay Shendure, MD, PhD.
His expertise is in genomic technology development, single-cell sequencing, gene regulation, chromatin structure, dosage compensation, and RNA biology. His current goals include single-cell and single-molecule technology development, with the aim to understand the impact of metabolism on pluripotency, cancer, and other diseases.
Ramani received a 2021 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award that supports high-risk, high-reward research. He was also selected as one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” in healthcare in 2020.
How did you get your start in science?
‟I had the great fortune to be surrounded by people who encouraged me to pursue a career in STEM. As a principal investigator, I'm excited to similarly encourage a new generation of scientists.”
Honors and Awards
2021 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, National Institutes of Health
2020 “30 Under 30” in Healthcare, Forbes
2015 Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation
2014 Genome Training Grant, National Human Genome Research Institute
2008 Semi-Finalist, Siemens-Westinghouse Competition
2008 Semi-Finalist, Intel Science Talent Search Competition