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RNA Structure and Function: a new frontier in biomedical research

Since its identification in the early 1900s, ribonucleic acid or RNA—a necessity for all forms of life on earth—has become an integral part of the Central Dogma of biology. As opposed to its stable and often stoic cousin DNA, RNA exists in cells in many forms, playing a role in innumerous cellular processes including at least: translation, gene transcript regulation and silencing, alternative splicing, transcription and reverse transcription, nucleotide modification, and genome composition. Efforts to study RNA’s varied roles have led to several Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

The 24th Annual International Symposium of the Hunter College Center for Gene Structure and Function, held in New York City on January 21, 2011, brought together leaders in RNA fields: from experts on viral replication and host avoidance mechanisms to those that study telomeres, cellular senescence, and homeostatic controls, as well as experts on translation initiation and alternative splicing mechanisms.

The diversity of the topics presented in this symposium on RNA is indicative of the complexities of this biomolecule and its fundamental role in life. The presentations were linked by a desire to illuminate mechanisms in which RNA’s varied structures and functions are just being understood as well as the biomolecule’s role in disease processes and the identification of novel therapeutics.

Symposium Planning Committee: 

Chair: Frida E. Kleiman, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Hunter College, CUNY

Diana Bratu, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Hunter College, CUNY

Luca Cartegni, Assistant Member Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Dixie Goss, Professor of Chemistry
Hunter College, CUNY

Nancy Greenbaum, Professor of Chemistry
Hunter College, CUNY

Stefano Rivella, Associate Professor of Genetic Medicine in Pediatrics
Weill Cornell Medical College

Bidisha Banerjee, PhD Candidate
Hunter College / Graduate Center, CUNY

Gina L. Rocco, PhD Candidate
Weill Cornell Graduate of Medical Sciences Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Xiaokan Zhang, PhD Candidate
Hunter College / Graduate Center, CUNY

Program Leadership: 

Robert Dottin, Professor of Biological Sciences
Hunter College, CUNY
Director, Center for Study of Gene Structure and Function

Julianne Imperato-McGinley, Associate Dean of Translational Research
Weill Cornell Medical College

Jesus Angulo, Professor of Biological Sciences
Hunter College, CUNY
Interim Director, Center for Study of Gene Structure and Function

Rodrigo Valles, Associate Program Director
Center for Study of Gene Structure and Function

CTBR Staff: 

Denise Charles, Symposium Coordinator and Program Administrator for Communications and Outreach

Leah Abraha, Program Assistant
Megan Anderson, Program Administrator
Faheem Ghazi, Web Programmer
Carlos Lijeron, Internet2 Facility Manager
Raul Morales, Network Facility Manager
Christine Gonzalez, Associate Program Manager
Marlin Guerrero, Grant Accounts Specialist
Jeanne Waxman, Program Manager