Center for Molecular Biology of RNA

University of California, Santa Cruz

Since its founding in 1992 with a grant from the Markey Trust, the Center has grown to 16 RNA faculty laboratories, distributed between the Departments of MCD Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry and Biomolecular Engineering, now representing the largest grouping of RNA laboratories in the world. A hallmark of the Center is the opportunity for interdisciplinary research. One notable example lies at the interface between the study of RNA structure and its biological functions. The presence of the UCSC Genomics Institute, faculty of which are represented in the RNA Center, provides a unique and powerful infrastructure for connecting experimental RNA science with computational biology. Interdisciplinary interaction is encouraged through monthly RNA Club meetings, where researchers from the RNA Center as well as invited outside speakers from the Bay Area RNA community present their findings. Among the research topics under investigation in the Center are the functions of long non-coding RNAs ('lnc RNAs'), catalytic RNAs ('ribozymes'), ribosome structure and function, spliceosomes and the mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing, protein-RNA interactions in regulation of alternative splicing, gene regulation by micro RNAs, RNA genomics, expression of RNA in single cells in different tissues and nanopore sequencing of single RNA molecules.

Prospective postdoctoral candidates should apply directly to individual RNA Center faculty via their email addresses as listed here.

Prospective graduate students should apply to the UCSC Graduate Program in Biomedical Science and Engineering , or to the graduate programs in MCD Biology , Chemistry and Biochemistry , or Biomolecular Engineering

Areas of Focus

  • RNA and disease.

    Many human diseases are caused by genetic defects in cellular RNAs or by RNA viruses. We are discovering RNA’s role in diseases such as myotonic dystrophy, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. We anticipate that the results of this research will lead to new targeted treatments.

  • RNA and the human genome.

    While most of the human genome is transcribed into RNA, only a small amount of that codes for the proteins that carry out most activities in the life of the cell. What are the other biological roles of RNA in the genome? We believe the answers will be transformative in our understanding of human development and the origins of life.

  • RNA technologies for discovery.

    Nanopore sequencing technology invented at UC Santa Cruz is about to revolutionize the study of the function and fate of RNA in the cell. Nanopore detectors are built around a membrane containing a tiny pore called an ion channel, just big enough to allow a single strand of DNA or RNA to pass through, enabling sequencing devices that are fast, compact, and portable enough to be used on the International Space Station.

  • Future RNA scientists.

    Our commitment to carrying forward what we learn includes the Undergraduate Biomedical Research Initiative, a donor-funded pilot program to engage 40 to 60 students in RNA-related research projects. The project is also developing internship partnerships with biotech companies.

Science Cover
RNA Researchers

How you can support the RNA Center

Your support will transform lives and programs. Private support leverages public investment in our work, making it possible to pursue new lines of inquiry and attract top students and faculty to our programs. Our campus culture of inclusion and diversity amplifies the impact of your support as we nurture young scientists to become the next leaders in the field.

Opportunities Includes:

  • Scholarships

    Allow promising undergraduates with financial constraints to accept research internships. Support programs such as the Undergradate Biomedical Research Initiative.

  • Fellowships

    Provide support for top graduate students and postdoctoral scholars as they pursue their education and research.

  • Chairs

    Attract, honor, and retain faculty by providing flexible resources for our best and brightest talents.

  • Infrastructure

    Ensure we have state-of-the-art facilities and tools to pursue this work.