Sudarshan Rajagopal, MD, PhD
Photo: Sudarshan Rajagopal



Elected 2022

Dr. Sudarshan Rajagopal is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Duke University School of Medicine and is Co-Director of the Duke Pulmonary Vascular Disease Center. The major goal of his research is to discover and characterize basic receptor regulatory mechanisms whose dysfunction contributes to cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, such as pulmonary hypertension (PH), a disease of the blood vessels in the lungs that causes heart failure. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, his research focused on “biased agonism,” a novel paradigm for G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling in which receptors can signal through distinct pathways depending on the ligand that binds to them. Biased agonism has now become a central paradigm for understanding GPCR signaling. During that time, he identified endogenous “biased receptors”, which are only capable of signaling to a limited number of downstream pathways, and developed novel approaches for quantifying ligand bias. Since starting his independent lab, his research group has made fundamental discoveries on mechanisms underlying biased agonism and the effects of biased signaling in the chemokine system. Dr. Rajagopal’s group has shown that biased agonists of chemokine receptors can activate distinct aspects of the inflammatory response. They have also discovered that β-arrestin adapter proteins can regulate the signaling of receptor tyrosine kinases in vascular disease that contributes to the development of PH. His group also has discovered a novel paradigm for GPCR signaling where G proteins and β-arrestins can form complexes to direct intracellular signaling. As co-director of the Duke Pulmonary Vascular Disease Center, he sees patients across the spectrum of PH, and has established an active translational research program implementing novel approaches such as hyperpolarized gas imaging for evaluating disease activity in PAH and CTEPH.