RNA Faculty Spotlight – Vivian G. Cheung, M.D., Pediatrics and Human Genetics

Vivian G. Cheung, M.D.
Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of Pediatric Research
Research Professor, U-M Life Sciences Institute
Professor of Pediatrics, U-M Medical School
Professor of Human Genetics, U-M Medical School
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

We study regulation of transcription; in particular, RNA-DNA sequence differences, RNA polymerase pausing and R-loop. We are interested in the mechanisms that underlie these processes, and how disruptions of these steps contribute to human neurologic disorders.
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  • What are your research interests? We study RNA sequences and structures for their regulatory roles.


  • Who/what brought you to science? Mentors including Helen Hobbs, Robert Mahley and Don Puppione who allowed to experience the joy of discoveries, and taught me the importance of research to improve health through the mechanistic understanding of diseases.


  • What advice would you give to students who’d like to get more involved in research? It’s an absolutely rewarding career.  Look for mentors who are willing to challenge you to be the very best.


  • Are there any opportunities for students to engage in your projects, currently or in the future? Yes – our projects range from using yeast to human cells to study how RNA sequences and structures confer cell identity and regulate cell function.  We draw approaches and reasonings from biology, chemistry, and genetics. 


  • What skills would they need, and what could they expect to learn? We are willing to teach students any skills – but they must come with curiosity and willingness to tackle difficult problems in biomedicine.


  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I am very content with my career – there are so many aspects of it that I have yet to explore, I am not thinking of other professions.

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