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CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: 2023 Young Investigator Symposium on RNA Biology (hosted by Dr. Xin Li)

Friday, March 10, 2023

Event Flyer ThumbnailRegister (free!) and, postdocs/research-track faculty, submit your abstracts by March 20th: 2023

2023 Young Investigator Symposium on RNA Biology

Dates: March 24-25, 2023
Venue: VIRTUAL via Zoom Webinar. Please register to obtain the link.

Application Deadline: March 20th, 2023
Register and/or Apply Here (All virtual attendees and talk applicants must register.)

Event Website

The 2023 Young Investigator Symposium on RNA Biology is co-organized by Xin Li, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Rochester, the RNA Medical Center of Zhejiang University, and the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology. The Symposium is free to attend and is focused on talks by dedicated postdocs, instructors, and young (associate) researchers from around the world, in addition to the keynote by Yi-Tao Yu, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of Rochester. The symposium will feature over 20 scholars, each presenting their cutting-edge research for 30 minutes. It will also feature two career sections on networking and job hunting.


Friday, March 24th: Virtual format, opening remarks and then talks, starting at 8:20 am EDT 
Saturday, March 25th: Virtual talks and Keynote for a half day, starting at 8:30 am EDT
The symposium will also include two virtual career sections on networking and job hunting. Please see the event website for updates on the program and speakers.


(KEYNOTE) Yi-Tao Yu, University of Rochester
Title: Nonsense suppression induced by RNA-guided RNA modification

Qinqin Cui, Zhejiang University
Title: Diverse CMT2 neuropathies are linked to aberrant G3BP interactions in stress granules

Junnan Fang, Emory University
Title: Isoform expression and the post-transcriptional regulations of centrosome Plp mRNA

Wenxia He, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title: The Degradation Complex on the 3’ End of Histone mRNA

Yanqiang Li, Harvard Medical School
Title: Low RNA stability signifies increased post-transcriptional regulation of cell identity gene 

Ling Liu, University of Manitoba, Canada
Title: Mechanism of Adaptive Splicing Controlled by DNA Methylation

Jianjun Luo, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Title: Systematic Identification and Functional Studies of Long Noncoding RNAs and SEPs

Yicheng Luo, California Institute of Technology
Title: Maternally inherited siRNAs initiate piRNA cluster formation 

Maria Mavrikaki, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Title: Severe COVID-19 is associated with molecular signatures of aging in the human brain 

JingRong Zhao, University of California
Title: Molecular profiling of individual FDA-approved clinical drugs identifies modulators of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay

Zhengjie Zhou, The University of Chicago
Title: Vascular targeted mRNA therapies treating cute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Please send any questions to Xin Li, PhD

Study: Yi-Tao Yu, Paul Boutz Harness Power, Precision of RNA to Make Mutations Invisible

Monday, March 6, 2023

Scientists have discovered a new way to suppress mutations that lead to a wide range of genetic disorders. A study in the journal Molecular Cell describes a strategy that co-opts a normal RNA modification process within cells to transform disease genes into normal genes that produce healthy proteins. The findings are significant because they may ultimately help researchers alter the course of devastating disorders such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and many forms of cancer.

Negating Nonsense

Around 15 percent of mutations that lead to genetic diseases are called nonsense mutations. Aptly named, nonsense mutations occur when an mRNA molecule contains an early “stop” signal. When the mRNA takes genetic instructions from DNA to create a protein, this early stop sign orders the cell to stop reading the instructions partway through the process. This results in the creation of an incomplete protein that can lead to disease.

Team members of the Yu lab

Led by Yi-Tao Yu, PhD, a team of researchers from the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology designed an artificial guide RNA – a piece of RNA that can modify other types of RNA – to target mRNA molecules that contain early stop signals (also called premature termination codons). Guide RNAs are a natural mechanism that cells use all the time; Yu’s team altered this already existing process.


Like DNA, RNA is made up of molecular building blocks that are represented by the letters A (adenine), G (guanine), U (uracil), and C (cytosine). Premature termination codons always have the building block U in the first position (for example, UAG, UAA or UGA). The team’s artificial guide RNA was designed to modify the U in the first position, changing the molecular makeup of the targeted mRNA so that the stop signal is no longer – or less well – recognized by the cell.

Read More: Study: Yi-Tao Yu, Paul Boutz Harness Power, Precision of RNA to Make Mutations Invisible

RNA Biologist Lynne Maquat Awarded 2023 Gruber Genetics Prize

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Lynne E. Maquat, PhD, the founding director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester, has been awarded the 2023 Gruber Genetics Prize for her discovery of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay or NMD in humans. The Gruber International Prize Program, administered by Yale University, honors scientists from around the world whose groundbreaking work leads to fundamental shifts in knowledge and benefits mankind.

Maquat has spent her career deciphering the many roles that RNA plays in sickness and in health, and is best known for elucidating the complexities of NMD in mammalian cells and human disease. One of the major surveillance systems in the body, NMD protects against mistakes in gene expression by targeting and eliminating deleterious mRNAs that could lead to the production of incomplete and potentially toxic proteins. Maquat’s lab also revealed that NMD helps our cells adjust to changes in development and in their environment, and more rapidly respond to certain stimuli.

“Lynne’s scientific prowess and steadfast commitment to her research is exemplary and has helped catapult the field of RNA biology to the forefront of medicine over the past decade,” said Mark B. Taubman, MD, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “This is an exciting time, as Lynne and other scientists are putting her mechanistic findings related to NMD to use to design treatments. She is incredibly deserving of this honor.”

Read More: RNA Biologist Lynne Maquat Awarded 2023 Gruber Genetics Prize

Three Biochemistry and Biophysics Faculty receive Wilmot Cancer Institute 2023 Team Science Pilot Awards

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Congratulations to Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Professors Josh Munger, Eric Wagner, and Clara Kielkopf, who were each members of separate teams of researchers who received WCI 2023 Science Pilot Awards.

Josh MungerJosh Munger joins team leader Isaac Harris, Ph.D., and members Calvin Cole, Ph.D., and David Linehan, M.D. in a project entitled “Elucidating the Role of GSH in Cancer-Associated Cachexia”.

Eric WagnerEric Wagner joins forces with Brian Marples, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, in a project entitled "BRAT1 May Recruit INTS11 RNA Cleavage Activity to Areas of DNA Damage to Impact Local Transcription Complexes

Clara KielkopfFinally, Clara Kielkopf is a member of a large team of researchers lead by Jane Liesveld, M.D., who will focus on a project entitled "The Role of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells and Aging in Myelodysplastic Syndromes

The awards are intended to fund projects that can develop inter-programmatic collaborations, and are aligned with the WCI strategic plan.  Each of the projects receives $75,000 for exploratory research. 

Work pioneered by Yi-Tao Yu highlighted in new studies

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Rewriting the message: Harnessing RNA pseudouridylation to tackle disease


Two recent papers in Molecular Cell made strides toward two worthy goals: (1) site-specific modification of RNAs with pseudouridine (Ψ) for functional studies of the epitranscriptome and (2) correction of disease-causing PTCs through Ψ-mediated stop codon readthrough.  Both studies build on pioneering work from Yu and colleagues that first showed the potential to engineer small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) for targeted pseudouridylation of stop codons in yeast and discovered that pseudouridylated stop codons suppressed translation termination when artificially introduced in mRNAs.

Read More: Work pioneered by Yi-Tao Yu highlighted in new studies

Yi-Tao Yu and Paul Boutz highlighted on the URMC social media channels

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Studies in Molecular Cell are being highlighted on the University's Twitter and LinkedIn pages.  Check them out. 

Former Graduate of the Biochemistry Ph.D. Program was longtime Professor at Brandeis University

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Thomas Hollocher JrThomas Clyde Hollocher Jr., a former graduate of the Biochemistry Program at the University of Rochester, passed away on November 3, 2022, at age 91. He received his Ph.D. in 1958, working with Professors Martin Morrison and Elmer Stotz. His thesis was entitled “Kinetic Studies on the Cytochrome C – Cytochrome Oxidase reaction”, where he extended studies of partially soluble systems to reactions in mitochondria capable of oxidative phosphorylation and feedback effects. He went on to a long career at Brandeis University where he taught for 38 years, and lead an active research program in the elucidation and mechanism of bacterial enzymes that carry out denitrification (the reduction of nitrogen oxides to di-nitrogen by bacteria, an alternative to aerobic respiration, and affecting the proportions of nitrogen and oxygen the earth's atmosphere.) He has over 80 research publications, including some related to his interests in chemical paleontology. Most recently Dr. Hollocher held the title of Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at Brandeis.