Ram Sasisekharan, PhD





(617) 258-9494
Alfred H. Caspary Professor of Biological Engineering and Health Sciences & Technology


Infectious Disease
Human Pathophysiology and Therapeutics


Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Skolkovo-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center
Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology


Prof. Sasisekharan has been a professor of Biological Engineering at MIT since 1996 and served as the Director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology from 2008-12. Sasisekharan received his B.S. in Physical Sciences from Bangalore University, his M.S. in Biophysics from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from Harvard Medical School.


The Sasisekharan Laboratory employs multidisciplinary strategies to develop and integrate technologies to further study complex polysaccharides important to a host of disease processes. A central goal is to ultimately develop novel therapeutic approaches to alleviate suffering from disease and promote overall human health. The Sasisekharan Lab has put forth efforts in building and applying various glycomics technologies.

Under Sasisekharan’s direction, his research group has put in place numerous strategies to tackle important problems in glycomics. Critically, the lab tackles fundamental aspects of glycan-protein interactions bringing diverse approaches to bear in this domain. The lab has studied glycan structure on the one hand (both glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and branched glycans) through the use of orthogonal analytical approaches (NMR, MS, enzymology etc.,). In a simultaneous and complementary effort, the group developed approaches to describe protein-glycan interactions using structure-based tools developed by the Sasisekharan LaB, and experimental/heuristic approaches such as through conformational studies using NMR, as well as informatics platform. Finally, the group directly probes important elements of glycan-protein interactions, such as specificity and affinity using a novel set of array and tissue-based studies.

The Sasisekharan Lab originated its efforts with GAGs (such as heparin) to build the needed analytical and enzymatic tools with defined substrate-product profiles to understand their structure-function relationships. It has became ever clearer to Sasisekharan and his researchers that to truly understand glycan-protein interactions as a whole –given the ‘analog’ continuum of their interaction features – what is needed is to capture diverse sets of interactions to help refine a strategy for this integrated (glycan and protein based) ‘glycomics tool’ building.

Technologies developed in the Sasisekharan Lab have resulted in the founding of multiple local biotechnology companies. Please read more about this on Sasisekharan’s lab website.

Research Areas: 

Honors & Awards: 

National Institutes of Health Merit Award, 2010
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow, 2009
Princess Chulabhorn Gold Medal Award, 2007
Princess Chulabhorn Institute Distinguished Lecturer Award, 2005
Indus Technovator Award, 2004
CaPCure Foundation, CaPCure Award, 1999-2002
Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, 1999
Burroughs Wellcome Fund Young Investigator Award in Pharamacological Sciences, 1999
Edgerly Science Partnership Award, 1999
CaPCure Foundation, CaPCure Award, 1998
INLAKS FOUNDATION, London, England, 1985-1987

Selected Publications:

Raman, Rahul, Kannan Tharakaraman, Zachary Shriver, Akila Jayaraman, V Sasisekharan, and Ram Sasisekharan. "Glycan receptor specificity as a useful tool for characterization and surveillance of influenza A virus." Trends Microbiol (2014).
Tharakaraman, Kannan, Akila Jayaraman, Rahul Raman, Karthik Viswanathan, Nathan W. Stebbins, David Johnson, Zachary Shriver, V Sasisekharan, and Ram Sasisekharan. "Glycan receptor binding of the influenza A virus H7N9 hemagglutinin." Cell 153, no. 7 (2013): 1486-93.
Tharakaraman, Kannan, Rahul Raman, Karthik Viswanathan, Nathan W. Stebbins, Akila Jayaraman, Arvind Krishnan, V Sasisekharan, and Ram Sasisekharan. "Structural determinants for naturally evolving H5N1 hemagglutinin to switch its receptor specificity." Cell 153, no. 7 (2013): 1475-85.
Tharakaraman, Kannan, Luke N. Robinson, Andrew Hatas, Yi-Ling Chen, Liu Siyue, S Raguram, V Sasisekharan, Gerald N. Wogan, and Ram Sasisekharan. "Redesign of a cross-reactive antibody to dengue virus with broad-spectrum activity and increased in vivo potency." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110, no. 17 (2013): E1555-64.
Maines, Taronna R., Akila Jayaraman, Jessica A. Belser, Debra A. Wadford, Claudia Pappas, Hui Zeng, Kortney M. Gustin, Melissa B. Pearce, Karthik Viswanathan, Zachary H. Shriver et al. "Transmission and pathogenesis of swine-origin 2009 A(H1N1) influenza viruses in ferrets and mice." Science 325, no. 5939 (2009): 484-7.
Kishimoto, Takashi Kei, Karthik Viswanathan, Tanmoy Ganguly, Subbiah Elankumaran, Sean Smith, Kevin Pelzer, Jonathan C. Lansing, Nammalwar Sriranganathan, Ganlin Zhao, Zoya Galcheva-Gargova et al. "Contaminated heparin associated with adverse clinical events and activation of the contact system." N Engl J Med 358, no. 23 (2008): 2457-67.