Synthetic Biology of RNA

RNA is a ubiquitous molecule of life that plays intimate roles in how cells function and make decisions. These same properties can be harnessed to create a new generation of engineering tools to further interrogate the properties of biology and control how cells behave. The RNA synthetic biology group aims to better understand the roles RNA plays in biology and to exploit these roles to improve how we study, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases in humans. This group is located at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI).

Leader

Prof Chase Beisel

RNA is a powerful medium for engineering biology. We seek to better understand the fundamental properties of this biomolecule and how it can be harnessed to improve diagnosis and treatment of human infections.”

Prof Chase Beisel

Chase Beisel received his bachelors and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering, although he always maintained an interest in engineering biomolecules and biological systems. His doctoral work at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California, USA) with Dr. Christina Smolke introduced him to the concept of RNA engineering. He then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland, USA) under the direction of Dr. Gisela Storz exploring the natural properties of RNA regulators. He then began his faculty position in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA) in 2011 pursuing RNA-guided immune systems called CRISPR-Cas systems. He was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure shortly before transitioning to the HIRI in 2018, where he focuses on applying RNA engineering to better understand, diagnose, and treat infectious disease.

His accomplishments have garnered consistent recognition, starting with graduate fellowships from the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense and a postdoctoral fellowship through the Life Science Research Foundation. Later, his independent research program has also been recognized with the CAREER Award from the US National Science Foundation, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Biotechnology & Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang Young Investigator Award, and the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award.

Further Information

A current overview of the team and further information about the research group can be found on the HIRI page.

Video

  • Novel COVID testing method

    CRISPR discovery from Würzburg paves the way for LEOPARD

    Am I infected with SARS-CoV-2? Is it one of the dangerous variants? Being able to answer these and more questions with a single efficient diagnostic test can be decisive for gauging the spread of disease and selecting the right therapy. In a study published today in the journal "Science", researchers from Würzburg at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI), a site of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in cooperation with the Julius Maximilians University (JMU), tackle this challenge with a new CRISPR discovery they translated into a diagnostic platform called LEOPARD.

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