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RNA Researchers Making an Impact on Modern Medicine and Graduate Education

Matthew D. Disney, Ph.D.Ian J. MacRae, Ph.D.

Within our cells and the cells of every living organism on Earth exist a family of large molecules called RNA. Yes, it’s an acronym (ribonucleic acid) and yes, it’s related to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). As a matter of interest, many evolutionary biologists believe RNA was the predecessor to DNA, carrying limited genetic information for the earliest, simplest forms of life on Earth.

Scientists today know that RNA molecules come in many different forms and variations, each serving a critical, specialized role. Think of RNA as the multi-talented workhorse of the cell; a molecular “jack-of-all-trades” performing a myriad of functions critical to the biology of plants, animals, bacteria—you name it.

So essential are these functions, for nearly a century many researchers around the world have focused on understanding how RNAs function, what roles they play in human biology, and most importantly, how they might be used or modified to treat and defeat human disease. Indeed, several Nobel Prizes have been awarded for discoveries in this important area.

Matthew Disney and Ian MacRae are two faculty members at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) directing research programs with RNA in the crosshairs.

Click on either photo above to read more about these researchers.

Scripps Education Reporter

Edition 5, Summer 2016


Edition 5 Home
TSRI Celebrates 24th Commencement

Graduate Faculty Profiles 
New Philanthropic Fellowships
Alumni Website Update
2016 DiVERGE Dates Announced
Catching Up with TSRI Alumni



A hairpin loop from a pre-mRNA. Highlighted are the nucleobases (green) and the ribose-phosphate backbone (blue). Note that this is a single strand of RNA that folds back upon itself.
source: Wikipedia