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Groundbreaking Scientist Ronald Breaker Outlines Promise of RNA in Biomedical Research

RNA's applications to medical research will be highlighted in a special seminar, 10 a.m. Friday, June 4 at the D'Ambra Auditorium in the Life Sciences Research Building

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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Ronald Breaker

Ronald Breaker is the recipient of a National Academy of Sciences Award in molecular biology. (Courtesy Yale University)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 21, 2010) -- Renowned Yale University scientist Ronald Breaker will present a special seminar on the role and promise of RNA in biomedical research and health. The seminar will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 4 in the D'Ambra Auditorium of the Life Sciences Research Building on the UAlbany uptown campus, and precedes the launch of a pioneering new UAlbany initiative for harnessing the power of RNA.

Breaker is noted for his groundbreaking work with aptamers, single-stranded nucleic acids that fold into three-dimensional structures, which bind to proteins, amino acids, vitamins, metal ions, and other small molecules. Breaker discovered a series of natural aptamers that function in modern organisms; so far, he's uncovered dozens of regulatory switches that involve aptamers joined to bacterial genes. These domains of messenger RNAs (mRNAs, or "riboswitches") bind to metabolites and control genes responsible for biosynthesis of essential compounds, and might be used to control the activity of genes inserted into cells as gene therapies. For establishing a new mode of regulation of gene expression, Breaker is the recipient of a National Academy of Sciences Award in molecular biology.

Breaker is the Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator at Yale University. He is also a member of the external scientific advisory board for UAlbany's RNA initiative.

Following Breaker's talk, UAlbany will inaugurate its RNA initiative.

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