New Faculty joins CART

Dr. Rajsekar “Raj” Rajaraman

Dr. Rajsekar "Raj" Rajaraman is an Assistant Professor in Pediatric Neurology at the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital. He completed his Pediatric Neurology residency, Clinical Neurophysiology fellowship, and Epilepsy fellowship training here at UCLA.

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Rajaraman completed his pediatrics residency at the Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center in New Jersey. During his pediatric residency, his exposure to seizures and the effects that epilepsy has on the patient and family led to him pursuing a career in pediatric epileptology at UCLA.

Currently, his clinical and research interests involve all genetic epilepsies with a focus on Tuberous Sclerosis and CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder. Dr. Rajaraman is currently the Director of the UCLA Tuberous Sclerosis Center of Excellence as well as the UCLA CDKL5 Center of Excellence. He is the primary investigator of over a dozen pharmaceutical and investigator driven clinical trials and studies. He has presented research at multiple conferences, including the American Academy of Neurology, Child Neurology Society, and the American Epilepsy Society, receiving achievements including the national 2014 American Epilepsy Society Young Investigator Award. Dr. Rajaraman has multiple publications on infantile spasms and cannabidiol (CBD).

In addition to his clinical and research interests, Dr. Rajaraman is an active member of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and American Epilepsy Society (AES). He volunteers for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, including helping at their annual Walk to End Epilepsy at the Rose Bowl, as well as the Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland.

Question: What have you been doing at UCLA prior to joining CART?
Answer: I am part of the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry , taking care of children with epilepsy, autism, and neurodevelopmental disorders. I am the Director of the Tuberous Sclerosis Center, the CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder Center, and am part of the Epileptic Encephalopathy clinic. I see patients in the hospital as well as outpatient. I also read EEGs and help plan epilepsy surgeries.

Question: What brought you into this field?
Answer: I was in my Pediatrics residency when I discovered that many of the patients with epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorder have minimal treatment options and no real cures. It was scary for the families (as well as for me!) when their children had seizures and I decided to dedicate my career to helping children with epilepsy.

Question: Why do individuals with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) frequently develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?
Answer: That is a great question - We have many TSC children with epilepsy who have ASD and we also have TSC children who have ASD without ever developing seizures. We are trying to figure out which TSC children are at risk for developing ASD and other developmental symptoms. We have two clinical trials (The PREVeNT trial and the TSC-STEPS trial) where we see whether a medication started early in life can prevent developmental delays, ASD, and epilepsy.

Question: What led you to researching Tuberous Sclerosis?
Answer: Much of my research involves infantile spasms, a unique epilepsy type that develops in the first year of life which can greatly affect development. It was one of the primary epilepsy types seen in Tuberous Sclerosis. If we can help manage infantile spasms, in Tuberous Sclerosis and many other syndromes, we can see better developmental outcomes. The medications and treatment options we have now for infantile spasms as well as Tuberous Sclerosis are not enough.

Question: You are taking over certain industry-sponsored clinical trials happening (previously operated by Dr. Shafali Jeste) at CART. Which trials are these and what are their goals?
Answer: We are taking part in an exciting study for Angelman Syndrome. The TANGELO study, developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals, involves the injection of a new medication through a lumbar puncture to get the treatment to the nervous system. This clinical study will test the safety of a new investigational therapy and study the way the body processes the study medication. The study will measure the impact of the investigational therapy using various clinical scales in Angelman Syndrome.

Question: How does your work in clinical trials impact and/or aid the autism community?
Answer: Many of the studies I lead are looking for treatment options in specific communities, whether it is Tuberous Sclerosis, CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder, Angelman Syndrome, or the autism community.

Question: What are some promising innovations and advances in research happening right now for families with Tuberous Sclerosis and ASD?
Answer: We have multiple exciting trials for Tuberous Sclerosis. One trial is looking at the use of CBD (brand name Epidiolex) for the treatment of seizures for infants with Tuberous Sclerosis under the age of one. The TSC-STEPS study goal is to treat newborns with Tuberous Sclerosis with sirolimus to evaluate whether we can prevent the onset of seizures and autism as well as improve development. We also have two TSC clinical trials for new medications that have new treatment mechanisms of action (Ganaxalone and Basimglurant).

If a family is interested in any of the above trials or would like a clinical evaluation, please e-mail my coordinator Angela Martinez () or