General Themes and Goals of our Research Group:

The general theme of our lab revolves around the discovery and  characterization of RNA regulators for uncovering complex cellular phenotypes. A major application of our work is the manipulation of RNA regulatory systems to engineer more robust cellular phenotypes that can better withstand natural environmental or chemical stresses (like those imposed by the incorporation of heterologous metabolic pathways). Some of the critical tools used in our lab include biochemical approaches, genetic studies, large-scale “omics” data, and bioinformatics.

Some of the areas under current study in our lab include:

1. RNA conformational changes in vivo and the relevance of these structural features for gene targeting approaches.

RNAs highly depend on their conformational flexibility for stability and function. One of our interests is to understand specific mechanisms by which RNAs are stabilized in vivo by other biological molecules and to apply this knowledge to the engineering of a wide range of RNAs with robust and controllable properties.

2. Engineering synthetic RNA elements

This area focuses on engineering new RNA-based elements with powerful roles in metabolic regulation. We are especially interested in elucidating ways to integrate the design of these individual molecules within the global architecture of cellular metabolism.

3. Characterizing RNA-mediated regulation pathways that are affected by various sources of oxidative stresses to build early disease diagnostics.

It is well understood that RNAs control a variety of essential cellular pathways and responses. On the other hand, oxidative stresses have been outlined as a major cause of aging and diseases.  This area of our research focuses on understanding the molecular attributes that lead to altered mechanisms of RNA regulation within cells in response to changing environmental inputs that are are encountered on a daily bases. Some of the stressors that we are studying include radiation and various air pollutants.