RNA Bioscience Initiative
The RNA Bioscience Initiative was started in
January 2016 with $20 million in funding from the Dean’s Office of the
University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The importance of RNA biology was recently
described by the National Cancer Institute in this way: “RNA biology has
emerged as one of the most influential areas in modern biology and bioscience.
The discovery of numerous new classes of RNAs and their function in a wide
spectrum of biological processes has revolutionized molecular biology and has
profound implications for clinical sciences. Key areas of current research
include the elucidation of RNA biogenesis and structure, the identification of
functions for various classes of RNAs, establishing the role of RNA in disease,
and the exploration of RNA-based- and RNA-targeted therapies.”
have only scratched the tip of the iceberg in realizing the potential of RNA
regulatory mechanisms to illuminate biology and advance medicine through
development of new therapeutics. RNA
therapeutics have the potential to revolutionize development of new treatments
as strategies can be implemented to target virtually any disease or process
through a common target, RNA.
The mission of the RNA Bioscience Initiative is to
understand the role of RNA in biology, engage in collaborative research, apply
approaches from basic science to translational efforts, and train the next
generation of researchers.
The RNA Bioscience Initiative will make substantial
and sustained contributions to answering these questions:
are the RNAs that drive biological outcomes in healthy and diseased cells, how
does their expression change, and how is this regulated?
are the downstream biological effects that are driven by diverse RNAs and how
are these RNA-based processes regulated?
do these RNAs elicit their effects and what are the details of their mechanisms
we exploit this knowledge to create better RNA-based research tools,
diagnostics, and therapies that either use RNA or target it?
The Anschutz Medical Campus and the region offer
existing strengths that will allow this initiative to excel. The University of
Colorado has a history in RNA research and its transition to startup biotechnology
companies and the academic environment and degree of collegiality among RNA
biologists in Colorado is notably strong. In addition, the University’s
Technology Transfer Office has extensive experience in obtaining intellectual
property on RNA diagnostics and therapeutics and has spearheaded the transition
of these discoveries into the marketplace.
Investigators on campus have already made important
discoveries in the field, covering RNA structure-function, RNA biogenesis,
non-coding regulatory RNAs in disease, RNA methods development and mechanisms
of regulation by non-coding RNAs.
new faculty members in basic and clinical science
a grants program for RNA-related research projects
training fellowships for graduate students and postdocs
Technology Workshop short courses
RNA technology and bioinformatics
a strong RNA Bioscience community
Jay Hesselberth, PhD, Associate Director
Thomas Blumenthal, PhD, Professor and Executive
Director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, University of Colorado
School of Medicine and University of Colorado at Boulder
Thomas Cech, PhD, Distinguished Professor,
Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Colorado-Boulder and Howard Hughes
David Engelke, PhD, Professor and Dean, Graduate
School, University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus
Roy Parker, PhD, Professor, Chemistry &
Biochemistry, University of Colorado-Boulder and Howard Hughes Medical
David M. Rodman, MD, Executive Vice President,
Research and Development, miRagen Therapeutics