Deepa Avasarala Rao, PhD

Associate Professor
UC Box: 
Areas I Teach: 


PHRM 590 | Pharmacy Practice I: I introduce concepts in Pharmaceutics as part of the longitudinal block for P1 students in the fall

PHRM584 | Pharmaceutics I is focused on dosage form design

PHRM 587 | Pharmaceutics II is focused the dosage form characteristics that make them appropriate for a particular route of administration


2008 | Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

1999 | Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY

Areas of Research & Specialization

My prior research experience, as part of my PhD, was in elucidating the effect of physicochemical properties of nanoparticulate systems on their lymphatic uptake and retention. As such, I was able to correlate the particle size, hydrophobicity, and charge distribution of biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles with their uptake and retention within the lymphatic system. In my post-doctoral study, I worked with micellar nanocarriers composed of biocompatible polymers for delivery of anti-cancer agents.

In my current research endeavors I continue to pursue my interest in biocompatible and biodegradable polymers as micellar drug delivery systems for cancer therapeutics. Specifically I am interested in designing micellar drug carriers using Pluronic® block copolymers for the concomitant delivery of drugs with additive/synergistic effects.  Molecules currently being explored include resveratrol, curcumin, thymoquinone, 2-hydrozycinnamaldehyde and other dietary phytochmeicals for the complementary/ adjuvant treatment of ovarian and breast cancer. The goal of this area of work is to explore concomitant delivery of dietary phytochemicals in combination with conventional chemotherapeutics or with other dietary phytochemicals for the treatment of breast or ovarian cancer.

Another area of research is designing and/or evaluating compounded medications.  As such, the lab conducts accelerated stability testing of compounded products, and can design and evaluate oral, and ophthalmic formulations for disease states in conjunction with local clinical practitioners.


Gu CH. Rao D. Gandhi RB. Hilden J. Raghavan K. Using a novel multicompartment dissolution system to predict the effect of gastric pH on the oral absorption of weak bases with poor intrinsic solubility. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 94(1):199-208, 2005

Rao DA, Forrest M.L, Alani, WG, Kwon GS, Robinson JR. Biodegradable PLGA based nanoparticles for sustained regional lymphatic drug delivery. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 99(4):2018-3, 2010

Shin H, Alani WG, Rao D, Rockich NC, Kwon GS.  Multi-drug loaded polymeric micelles for simultaneous delivery of poorly soluble anticancer drugs.  Journal of Controlled Release.140(3):294-300, 2009

Alani WGA, Bae Y, Rao DA, Kwon GS. Polymeric micelles for the pH-dependent controlled, continuous low dose release of paclitaxel. Biomaterials. 31(7):1765-72, 2009

Alani WG, Rao D, Seidel, R, Wang J, Jiao J, Kwon GS.  The effect of novel surfactants and solutol® HS 15 on paclitaxel aqueous solubility and permeability across a Caco-2 monolayer.  Journal Pharmaceutical Sciences 99(8):3473-85 2010

Ciochina R, Savella C, Cote B, Chang D, Rao D. “Synthesis and Characterization of New Curcumin Derivatives as Potential Antitumor and Antioxidant AgentsDrug Development Research 75(2):88-96 2014

Janssen Carlson L, Cote B, Alani AWG, Rao DA. “Polymeric micellar co-delivery of resveratrol and curcumin to mitigate in vitro doxorubicin induced cardiotoxicity” Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 103(8): 2315-22 2014

Law AV, Bottenberg MM, Brozick AH, Currie JD, DiVall M, Haines ST, Jolowsky C, Koh-Knox CP, Leonard GA, Phelps SJ, Rao D, Webster A, Tablonski E. “A Checklist for the Development of Faculty Mentorship ProgramsAmerican Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 78(5): Article 98 2014

Hoffmann B, Carlson C, Rao DAAssessing the use of food coloring as an appropriate visual guide for homogeneously mixed capsule powders in extemporaneous compounding” accepted by the  International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding

Honors & Awards

2001 | 2002 Pfizer Fellowship awarded

1999 | Excellence in Pharmaceutics award by Merck

2013 | Second Runner up AACP Teacher of the Year

2014 | AACP Innovations in Teaching Competition Award