Program Leadership

The program is spearheaded by national leaders in RNA science who have a strong track record of establishing training programs at the intersection of basic and applied sciences.

Dr. Marlene Belfort, Director
Is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has trained many Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows, some of whom have pursued careers at highly prestigious universities and biotech companies. Dr. Belfort is experienced in administering NIH training grants.


Dr. Paul F. Agris
is Director of the RNA Institute. He is a professor of Biology and Chemistry and brings the perspective of graduate research training at two other public research institutions,at the University of Missouri-Columbia and at the North Carolina State University His mentoring has resulted in successful academics, corporate researchers, entrepreneurs and leadersat international US companies.

Dr. Doug Conklin
is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and has worked on the development and commercialization of technologies for the genetic manipulation of mammalian cells. He has mentored graduate students, post-docs and been intimately involved in running the Biomedical Sciences graduate program, directing core curriculum courses and serving as director of the Molecular Genetics track.

Dr. Alexander Shekhtman
is a Professor in the Chemistry Department and an NMR expert with extensive training in biochemistry and structural biology. He has a long-standing interest in the area of in-cell NMR spectroscopy. Additionally, he has trained PhD students and post-docs who have successful careers in biochemistry.

Dr. Prashanth Rangan
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the RNA Institute. He was trained both as a RNA biophysicist and developmental biologist and is a strong advocate for interdisciplinary training. He is deeply engaged in graduate education and in developing an espirit de corps in the scientific community.