RNA Training Programs
Training the next generation of RNA scientists
Training the next generation of RNA scientists
Providing interdisciplinary training that crosses traditional curriculum boundaries is critical for preparing future RNA researchers to translate advances in RNA science into beneficial technologies.
The RNA Institute offers competitive summer fellowships for undergraduate students interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research within the lab of one of our Institute faculty. Students receive a stipend and are expected to pursue research for a significant portion of the summer. At the end of the summer, students present their research to their peers, donors, and members of the Institute. Interested students should contact one of the Institute faculty to discuss the opportunities available in their lab of choice.
This opportunity is open to undergraduate students enrolled for Fall 2021.
Contact Tammy Reid at [email protected] if you have any questions about this application.
Note: We hope that the COVID-19 situation has improved by summer 2021, however, remote projects, such as learning bioinformatics and analyzing data sets, will be available as research projects.
Application materials you will need to submit
March 25, 2021 - Next Generation RNA Researcher - Cristina DeMeo
August 13, 2020 - How some students spend their summer break: Researching COVID-19 - NYS Writers Institute (video)
This novel, PhD-level training program for current University at Albany students provides a multi-disciplinary curriculum with a focus on RNA and its health relevance. We develop our future science leaders by providing students with access to faculty, techniques, and collaborations within UAlbany, including The RNA Institute, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
The participating students are selected from PhD programs within the UAlbany departments of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, and Chemistry, and SUNY Polytechnic Nanobiosciences. Funded in part by a T32 NIH training grant, the program supports a comprehensive, intellectually rigorous, and individualized PhD training experience.
The program also offers resource-faculty with RNA interests from the UAlbany Mathematics and Physics departments. The participating faculty represents a unique assembly of RNA expertise, ranging from single-molecule biophysics and chemical synthesis to developmental biology and infectious diseases.
Dr. Thomas Begley - Director of RNA Training Program
Thomas Begley is Associate Director of the RNA Institute and a Professor of Biological Sciences. He has trained in biomedical, engineering, public health and basic research settings throughout his career, with a focus on gene regulation and stress responses. He has mentored many graduate and post-doctoral students, with them finding positions in academia, government and commercial enterprises.
Dr. Marlene Belfort - Co-Director of RNA Training Program
Marlene Belfort 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 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, some of whom have pursued careers at prestigious universities and biotech companies. Dr. Belfort is experienced in administering NIH training grants.
The RNA Training Program faculty includes members from four UAlbany departments Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, plus faculty from SUNY Polytechnic Nanobiosciences. In addition, we have resource-faculty from the departments of Mathematics and Physics at UAlbany.
Visit the RNA Training Program Faculty Page.
Students will develop a basic understanding of RNA science and transform knowledge into technical applications. Trainees have the unique opportunity to choose mentors in one of the four departments, participate in cross-departmental collaborations, and have faculty members from all four departments or Physics and Mathematics serve on their thesis committee. We will thus ensure a broad experience that prepares our students for a wide range of career options.
RNA fellows are selected from the four participating PhD programs based on outstanding performance. These RNA fellows form a cohesive cohort that take an RNA-centric curriculum of courses and colloquia. They will also have the option to collaborate with the School of Business and the Writers Institute to gain experience in entrepreneurship and science writing, respectively.
The training program has developed a curriculum based on the national need for interdisciplinary training, in the general area of RNA Science and Technology in Health and Disease, to prepare students for jobs in academia, industry, government, communication, scientific foundations, and other private sector enterprises.
Students in the program complete a series of core courses required of their home departments, followed by courses on specific topics of interest in subsequent years. Students also undertake research rotations during their first year and then select a research advisor. Students will usually be selected for the training program in the Spring (second) semester of their first year.
Second Year and Beyond
During their studies, trainees will take the two-semester RNA Flagship course. Other departmental electives can be selected. They will also present their work at the RNA Colloquium Program. At each colloquium given by an RNA Fellow they present on a topic that is broadly defined as the role of RNA in their research project or lab’s research area.
Students opt for the Entrepreneurship or Writing Workshop. Throughout their training, students will attend both their departmental and RNA-specific seminars.
Trainees, who are supported by teaching assistantships, will receive ample opportunities to teach. During their research training they will also be called upon to supervise undergraduates, allowing them to develop mentoring skills.
The courses usually meet twice a week over a 13-week period for 110 minute per class for a total of ~48 contact hours per semester.
Throughout a 6-lecture workshop series students learn about and discus the process of deciding why and when it makes sense to commercialize scientific technology. Workshops focus on the patent process, when intellectual property should be protected, what constitutes inventorship and what gives a patent value.
Students dissect the patent process including how a patent is put together and the process of applying for a patent. In addition, students learn about what constitutes a claim set and what makes a patent strong or weak, using several issued patents as examples.
Scientists need not only write in lucid and creative ways, but to communicate their work to other scientists and to the public. Students trained to do experiments must be educated to write in ways that project their work and open doors to writing creatively in an increasingly competitive arena.
Science writing and communication constitute an important platform of education for RNA Trainees. They will have many opportunities to learn to write well including access to introductory courses, Communication in Science (BMS510) or Responsible conduct and Skills in Scientific Communication (BIO 515b) to promote effective scientific writing of journal articles and data presentation skills for posters and giving oral presentations.
Students will have even broader opportunities to hone their writing and communication skills through the NYS Writers Institute. The RNA Training Program and NYS Writers Institute share common interdisciplinary goals including promoting creativity and critical thinking and a commitment to making something new.
Individuals who have written about science for a broader public and have visited the Writers Institute include premier scientists like Jon Beckwith, Michio Kaku, Eric Kandel, Steven Jay Gould, Steven Pinker, and V.S. Ramachandran, and science journalists such as Natalie Angier and James Gleick.
It is of vital interest to the Writers Institute in this collaboration both to promote RNA students' communication skills and to prepare students to be honest brokers of their own research and ideas to a general public.
Workshop: The science-writing workshop will consist of four 90-minute sessions with one session being held each month during the fall semester. All workshops will be led by Dr. Anette Breindl. Dr. Breindl, a neurobiologist, is senior science editor at BioWorld and a member of the National Association of Science Writers.
In the workshops, students will improve their own and each other’s science communication skills, primarily by learning to tailor communications to both the writers’ goals and their intended audiences. They will also learn about different science writing opportunities and careers. The expectation is that each fellow will produce a publication-worthy essay that could appear in the RNA Institute Newsletter, Trolley, the publication of the New York State Writers Institute, or similar publication. Dates and times of the workshops will be announced by Dr. Breindl.
Popular science presentations: RNA fellows will attend at least one selected presentation related to popular science, sponsored by the renowned Writer’s Institute. Presentations will be announced once the Fall Writers Institute schedule is set.
Description: Introduction to Scientific Communications Workshops, Fall 2020, Professor Anette Breindl
Scientific gatherings are invaluable to students, because they demonstrate how those highly skilled in a field present a seminar; expose students to basic approaches and principles which traverse disciplines; provide opportunities to discuss careers and decision-making processes; acquaint students with cutting edge, often unpublished, research results; and allow networking with scientists to increase job prospects.
(Click on image for full size view)
RNA Fellows Colloquium
|May 21, 2019||
Justin Waldern, “Regulation of group II intron retrotransposition by a RNA methyltransferase”
|March 19, 2019||May Lee, "Epitranscriptomic writer deficient cells activate senescence and mitochondrial reprogramming"|
|January 22, 2019||Marissa Louis, “Dumbbell RNA structures in the Zika virus 3’ untranslated region modulates viral gene expression”|
|December 18, 2018||Ryan McDowell, " Insights into mycobacterial cyclic nucleotide signaling through phosphodiesterase, Rv0805"|
|April 17, 2018||Aly Hoy, “HNA: A new oligonucleotide”|
|April 17, 2018||Rachel Nelson, “Structure and Mechanisms of C-Family Bacterial DNA Polymerases”|
|March 20, 2018||Jamie Corro, “Zinc depletion regulates expression of alternative ribosomes and promotes hibernation in Mycobacterial species”|
|March 20, 2018||Neil M. Robertson, “Controllable RNA and small molecule therapeutics using MRI-active nanoparticles”|
|February 20, 2018||Shane Breznak, “Transcriptional silencing promotes timely differentiation”|
|February 20, 2018||Rebecca J. D’Esposito, “Using coarse-grained molecular dynamics and ion mobility mass spectrometry for nucleic acid gas-phase structure determination”|
|January 16, 2018||Amber Altrieth, “Profiling of Endothelial Cell Signaling Using RNA-seq”|
|January 16, 2018||Patrick Blatt, “Regulation of Maternal mRNAs”|
|December 19, 2017||Alicia McCarthy, “Cracking open the epigenetics of making an egg”|
|November 21, 2017||Rachel Netzband, “RNA modifications as tools for viral infection”|
|Nov. 15 2016||Botros Toro, "Studying weak nucleisc acid interactions using ESI-MS"|
|May 17, 2016||Rachel Nelson, "What determines polymerase specificity for RNA and DNA primers?"|
|April 19, 2016||Marissa Louis, "Using viruses as a model system to study RNA structure and function"|
|April 19, 2016||Lauren Cooper, "Self-targeting by the E.coli CRISPR-Cas system"|
|March 15, 2016||Neil Robertson, "Novel single trigger, dual responsive magnetic nanoparticles for the treatment of resistant cancer phenotypes"|
|February 16, 2016||Rebecca D'Esposito, "Use of Ion Mobility Spectrometry - Mass Spectrometry (IMS-MS) to elucidate nucleic acid structure"|
|December 15, 2015||Patrick Blatt, "Germline RNA Regulators Spape its Immortality"|
|November 17, 2015||Alicia McCarthy, "A tail of two histone modifiers"|
|October 13, 2015||Rachel Cary, "RNA Research methods in studying Flavivirus-host interactions"|
|Biology Seminars||Weekly||Broadly-based research presentations by external speakers|
|BMS-Wadsworth||Weekly||Broadly-based research presentations by external speakers|
|Career Day||Annual||Joint with Career Services. Invited speakers from different science-based professioins (business, government, journalism, law)|
|Chemistry Seminars||Weekly||Broadly-based research presentations by external speakers|
|Hudson Valley RNA Club *||Monthly||RNA-specific, local/Northeast|
|Life Sciences Research Symposium||Annual||Students and post-docs presentations fro the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology)|
|New PI-in-RNA Presentation||Monthly||New PI's present research ideas or grant applications to established faculty|
|RNA Fellows Colloquium *||Monthly||Presented by RNA Fellows|
|RNA Institute Retreat *||Annual|
|RNA Symposium *||Annual||RNA-based. Technology workshop plus celebrated speakers|
|Visiting Writers Series||Weekly||Public lectures of acclaimed authors at NYS Writers Institute|
|WISC Symposium||Annual||Workshop for interaction and scientific collaboration - Capital District PIs. Started in 2013 Viruses and other possible elements. 2015 - Neuroscience Development. 2016 - Expanding the Life Sciences Toolkit.|