Senior Research Scientist
Specialty / Research Interests
- Mass spectrometric analysis
- Chromatographic separations
- RNA-based method development and applications to human health
Maria is a Senior Research Scientist at the Advanced Instrumentation Facility, at The RNA Institute, State University at Albany, NY. Her main role is focused on the development of methods for the analysis of existing and novel modifications of RNA by mass spectrometry and complementary biophysical technologies together with the developing of methods for RNA separation and purification. She is also responsible for bringing in potential collaborations, public-private partnerships and to engage with the RNA community to push the technology of RNA therapeutics. Her postdoctoral work at the University of Manchester, UK, included the application of her analytical chemistry background on the development of technology and methods applicable to the discovery of breath biomarkers caused by inflammation and infection in respiratory diseases. This followed couple of years as a research scientist at the University at Albany, working with ion mobility and mass spectrometry to develop methods to study structural conformations of RNA and its effect upon ligand binding. Her efforts have resulted in 6 out of 10 first authored peer review publications together with two patent applications. Full CV
PhD in Chemistry, 2007, “Development of exhaled breath sampling strategies using differential mobility spectrometry”, The University of Manchester, UK.
MChem (Hons) First Class, Chemistry, 2003, UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology), UK.
BSc Chemistry, 2000, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. (Academic File transferred to UMIST in 2000)
- RNA Modifications in Group II intron (Marlene Belfort)- We are especially interested in studying the existence of potential RNA modifications that may be fundamental during splicing processes and also during retrotansposion in a self-splicing intron LtrB group II intro.
- RNA modifications associated with brain development and function (Sally Temple)- We are developing tools and technologies to study the role of neural cell RNA modifications in brain development, evolution and function. We are interested in Tauopathies, aworld-wide health concern that includes diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Frontaltemporal Dementias and in particular the role of post-transcriptional modifications in leading genes that encode forms of these tauopathies. Another research collaboration effort sims to understand the role that RNA modifications play in neural function under the effects of drugs of abuse. This latest research has been recently awarded a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop RNA modifications as diagnostic tools for drug of abuse.
- Understanding the role of modifications in the anticodon stemloop (ASL) of tRNA (Paul Agris) – The modifications in the anticodon stem-loop of tRNA are shown to play an important role in translation leading to protein synthesis. We are currently studying the role of 2-thiocytidine modification on the structure and dynamics of the ASL of tRNAArg. Sri Ranganathan is also a collaborator on this project.
- Study of RNA as Novel Gram-positive pathogens targets (Paul Agris)- This research project focuses on two strong hits from in silico studies that display antimicrobial activity specific to Gram-positive bacteria and moderate-to-low cytotoxicity to human cells in culture. We are validating the identity of RNA candidates and small molecule targets as part of a protocol for further cytotoxicity and bioavalability of compounds using in vitro models.
- DBP-2 Cellular RNA metabolism pathways and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) (Cara Pager)- Dr. Pager’s preliminary data suggests that miRNA, miR-122, isolated from HCV-infected cells contains the RNA posttranscriptional modification, inosine, I. We are working towards developing this hypothesis by creating tools to isolate miRNA from total RNAs and further detection of inosine I along with other potential RNA modifications that may contribute to both cellular and viral gene expression.
- Discovery of novel dinoflagellate CAP structures (Allen Place) – Dinoflagellates have been shown to use trans-splicing for SL-RNA to all mRNAs. Dr Place studies at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland, and had predicted that CAP4 structure is similar to trypanosomes. We are investigating the composition of RNA modifications and making predictions about mRNA CAP structures. Dr Place’s work is supported by an NIEHS/NSF Oceans and Human Health grant.
- Basanta M., et al. Evaluation the effect of ligands on RNA secondary structure by ion mobility spectrometry.(In Preparation).
- Quinn, R. Et al. Mass spectrometric approaches for the characterization of nucleic acids components. J Mass Spectrometry,48,703-712,2013.
- Basanta M., et al. Exhaled volatile organic compounds for phenotyping chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a cross-sectional study. Respiratory Research 13:72, 2012.
- Fowler, S.J. et al. Screening for respiratory infection by breath volatiles in mechanically ventilated patients. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 185,2012:A3785
- Basanta M., et al. Methodology validation, intra-subject reproducibility and stability of exhaled volatile organic compounds. J.Breath Research, 6, 2012.