Nobel Laureates highlight University of Michigan’s Inaugural RNA Symposium

February 2, 2016

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Five prominent scientists, including two Nobel Laureates, will share the stage on March 25, 2016, when the University of Michigan’s Center for RNA Biomedicine holds its Inaugural Symposium.

The Symposium, titled “Can RNA Answer It All? From the Origin of Life to a Future of Personalized Medicine,” will feature 2006 Nobel Prize winner Craig C. Mello, Ph.D., and 1993 Nobel Prize winner Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D. The event will be sponsored by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

The Symposium marks the launch of the University of Michigan’s Center for RNA Biomedicine, a cross-disciplinary center designed to leverage and promote the strengths of the University of Michigan’s RNA community. The Center will draw together researchers from across the RNA spectrum, from translational research to single cell and single molecule biophysics, and across RNA mediated diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and viral infection.

“Collaboration across disciplines is one of the hallmarks of the U-M community and a key driver of the creativity and impact of our research,” said S. Jack Hu, vice president for research. “The Center for RNA Biomedicine will build on this core strength to spur progress in medical sciences.”

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is copied from the genetic material found in human cells and has long been known to serve as a cellular messenger. Recent discoveries have helped scientists more fully understand how RNA regulation and functions influence development of disease, and it is becoming clear that a greater understanding of RNA will lead to “personalized” medicine, in which each patient is treated according to his or her unique genetic makeup.

The Symposium will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 25 in the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Sciences Research Building, 109 Zina Pitcher Place in Ann Arbor. In addition to Mello and Sharp, the symposium will feature talks from a range of luminaries in the field of RNA biomedicine:

Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics and Oncology, and Director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester
Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and a Taubman Scholar
Anita Hopper, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Awardee
“The inaugural RNA Symposium will mark the first time ever that two Nobel Laureates have shared a stage at the University of Michigan,” said Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Taubman Institute, which is providing funding and organizational support for the RNA Center for Biomedicine. “It is an honor for our Institute to help launch such an exciting and important scientific endeavor.”

The RNA Center for Biomedicine will be co-directed by Nils Walter, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Biophysics, and Mats Ljungman, Ph.D., Professor of Radiation Oncology. Membership is open to members of the University of Michigan RNA community. The Symposium is open to all. To register for the Inaugural RNA Symposium or to join the Center for RNA Biomedicine, please visit

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