A Paediatric surgeon of repute, Dr. Rao started his professional career as an Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatric Surgery, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal in 1979. He was promoted as a professor in 1988. He also served as the Head of the Department of Paediatric Surgery and Associate Dean of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.
Endowed with a good knowledge of academic requirements and administrative norms he was appointed as the first Registrar of MAHE in the year 1993. He served in the position till 1996. He was then appointed as the first Dean of Melaka Manipal Medical College, Melaka, Malaysia, in 2001 and Head, of compliance and Campus Developments at Manipal Universal Learning till he was appointed as the Director, Quality and Compliance of MAHE, Manipal in 2009 with collateral duties as Professor of Paediatric Surgery.
In the year 2014, Dr. Rao was appointed as the Vice Chancellor, Manipal International University, Malaysia.
Dr PLNG Rao served as the Pro Vice Chancellor – Quality Assurance and Faculty of Health Sciences at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) from April 16, 2018, to December 31, 2022.
Dr. Rao is a Fellow of Academy of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and holds membership/ fellowship of professional bodies like the Association of Surgeons of India, Indian Association of Paediatric Surgeons, Indian Society of Gastroenterology, Indian Medical Association, and Asian Association of Paediatric Surgeons. He has to his credit many publications in various National and International Scientific journals and presented papers at various national conferences.