RNA Institute College of Arts & Sciences | University at Albany
Paul Agris Director Director's Message



Director's Message

November 2014

It has been an eventful and rewarding fall semester with many collaborations, faculty searches, our annual Scientific and Corporate Advisory Boards meeting, conferences, outreach events, and the RNA Café.  I am very proud of the work of our affiliated faculty, and staff members in making this a productive and rewarding time in the development of The RNA Institute.

The Institute collaborates with faculty researchers and companies to generate innovative technology and methods that answer biological problems that advance the field of RNA Science.  Currently, our staff scientists are developing technologies to address several Driving Biomedical Problems. Ken Halvorsen is developing a centrifuge force microscope for single molecule analysis that is being used in collaboration with Marlene Belfort, Pan Li and Prash Rangan to understand dynamic structural changes in RNA, and how they relate to their function.  Maria Basanta Sanchez received an STTR grant this September to collaborate with both Athghin Biotechnology Inc. and the Neural Stem Cell Institute (NSCI) on evaluating RNA modifications in medial frontal cortex cells upon exposure to drugs of abuse. Maria also works with Sally Temple, NSCI’s director in studying brain development as function of RNA modifications with the goal of studying degenerative diseases such Alzheimer's.  Additionally, Maria has ongoing collaborative projects with faculty members including myself, Marlene Belfort, Cara Pager, and Allen Place.  Sri Ranganathan, our newest team member, already has five ongoing collaborations with faculty members including myself, Dan Fabris, Mehmet Yigit, Jia Sheng, Prash Rangan, and Alan Chen in which he provides computational support to predict structure and interactions of RNA and to obtain a molecular understanding of the underlying processes. He is also in the process of including RNA modifications in the existing algorithms for secondary and tertiary structure predictions of RNA.  Additionally, The Institute is very pleased to announce that we have initiated a two year partnership with BD Biosciences in development of cell sorting on specific RNAs.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Gabriele Fuchs accepted the position of assistant professor in Biological Sciences and The RNA Institute. In an effort to expand our faculty team even further, there are currently several faculty searches.  One for an RNA Biochemist, another for a Research Assistant Professor, and to enhance life science endeavors in entrepreneurship in collaboration with the School of Business, we are actively searching for a Life Science Entrepreneurship faculty member as well. These searches coincide with a search for a staff member to manage public private partnerships. We have some excellent candidates and we look forward to your feedback on the chalk talks and seminars in the next couple of months. 

Guiding us as we progress through our time of growth and development are our Scientific and Corporate Advisory Boards.  The two Boards met on November 3. There most immediate impression brought accolades to the large number of successes in the last 18 months since the hiring of scientific and administrative staff at the time of the opening of the Institute’s specially designed space in LSRB.

Last but not least, I’d like to encourage you all to submit abstracts for our upcoming 2nd Annual Symposium on RNA Science and its Applications on March 20th.  There will be awards for the best undergraduate, graduate and postdoc posters so please encourage the entire lab to attend.  Additionally, our Genome editing with CRISPR/Cas Systems Workshop will take place on March 17th-19th. Lectures are open to all symposium attendees.  There are limited spots for the lab practicals.  Please visit http://www.albany.edu/rna/2015SigmaSymposium.html  for more information.

We look forward to learning, collaborating and growing with you throughout this winter and beyond.    

-Paul Agris

Past Director's Messages

May 2014



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