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Dr. Rafiq Ahmad Rather

Senior Resident, Department of Advanced Centre for Human Genetics, SKIMS, Soura, Srinagar, J&K (India)

Dr. Rafiq Ahmad Rather is currently working as a Senior Resident at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar, India. Recently, Dr Rafiq has been awarded with Senior Research Associateship (Scientist's Pool Scheme) by CSIR, India. As a highly skilled and competent individual with more than 10 years of work experience as part of a team as well as a team leader. Dr. Rafiq did a part of his postdoctoral training on ‘cancer chemoprevention and cancer health disparity’ at the Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, USA.  Dr. Rafiq’s doctoral thesis and his research goals were primarily directed towards understanding the mechanistic basis for the ultraviolet (UV)-B induced ROS generation, ER stress, autophagy and apoptosis in skin cells. The role of natural products and new chemical entities (NCEs) in modulating these phenomena in UVB–irradiated skin cells has been the subject of Dr Rafiq’s core research. His idea of using natural products and radiations in the treatment of skin cancers represents an important contribution in the development of new field of research known as photopharmacology. The concept of photopharmacology is useful for therapeutic applications and as a research tool to study and decipher cell mechanisms. In addition, Dr. Rafiq’s doctoral research considered the use of dietary safe natural products such as, piperine and quercetin, in combination with UV-B irradiation as a possible therapeutic modality for melanoma. In melanoma therapeutic terms, these results are interesting because skin tumors are the potential target for treatment by external UV-B irradiation, especially when tumors are multiple and surgically incurable but are easily accessible to external light exposure. These findings are also exciting because melanoma tumors and related cell lines are known to be exceptionally resistant to apoptosis. Dr. Rafiq and his colleagues also studied the mechanistic basis of the role of UV-B in inducing skin photo-damage. Dr. Rafiq as a part of group studied the role of glycyrrhizic acid, a natural product of plant origin, in ameliorating the photo-damaging effect of UVB in human HaCaT keratinocytes and BALB/c mice. Lately, as the principal investigator of SERB-approved project, Dr. Rafiq could understand the role of oncogenic BRAF(V600E) in triggering ER stress mediated autophagy in melanoma models.  In addition to generating basic information on pathology of skin cancer, Dr. Rafiq is interested to understand the role of new therapeutic targets that regulate apoptosis and chemo-resistance in cancer models, including human clinical specimens.