The RNA Bioscience Initiative supports graduate students through its RNA Scholars Program. Applicants are selected (see application information) based on previous accomplishments and promise in RNA Research. The RNA Scholars are provided stipend support and a small discretionary fund.
2017-2018 RNA Scholars Application
For more information on applying, download the instructions for applying.
2016-2017 RNA Scholars
My research focuses on alternative splicing and
transcriptional regulation of a novel SZ risk gene and a new antipsychotic drug
target- PIK3CD. Evidence suggests that regulation of PIK3CD occurs mainly at
the transcriptional level and that the gene contains several novel
5´-untranslated exons with distinct promoters. A truncated variant, P37, also
results from alternative splicing of the PIK3CD gene. In addition, two
antisense RNAs, PIK3CD-AS1 and -AS2, have the potential to further regulate
PIK3CD gene expression. I am working to uncover the function and mechanistic
regulation of PIK3CD transcripts in the brain, as well as in the context of SZ
Some viral and cellular RNAs do not use a
canonical poly(A) tail. Instead, they
use a structured 3´-UTR to increase message stability or to enhance the rate of
translation. I am nvestigating these phenomena using the Turnip Yellow Mosaic
virus (TYMV) 3´-UTR. This 3´-UTR has two domains: a tRNA-like structure (TLS)
functions as a tRNA mimic driving aminoacylation, and the upstream pseudoknot
(UPD) stabilizes the TLS. Using biochemical
approaches I am learning how this RNA manipulates translation, how the UPD functions
as a molecular sensor, and how the structure of UPD affects the conformational
dynamics of the TLS.
My work is focused on how host Rig-I-like RNA
helicases (RLRs) respond to Flaviviral infection of the central nervous system
(CNS). The RLR pathway is essential in the production of type I interferon
which propagates an antiviral state within nearby cells and tissues. I utilize
West Nile virus, Zika virus, and Japanese encephalitis virus to compare RLR
responses in the CNS during viral encephalitis.
I am investigating how the CNS responds to very similar pathogens (both
in clinical presentation and RNA structure). I see very specific differences
between these Flaviviral-induced infections both during early events and
downstream cytokine and chemokine production.
The synthesis of RNA by RNA polymerase II is not
a smooth and continuous process, but one that is punctuated by frequent pauses
and fluctuations in transcription rate.
Changes in the elongation phase of transcription not only affect final
RNA levels, but also impact RNA processing decisions, and have been linked to a
number of human diseases. The goal of my
research is to investigate how factors that alter transcription elongation
influence the biogenesis of various pol II transcripts including mRNAs, lncRNAs,
snRNAs, snoRNAs, and eRNAs.