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Sara Rouhanifard — Center for RNA Molecular Biology symposium
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Heard on campus: RNA expert Sara Rouhanifard

Scientist spoke at the inaugural Penn State Center for RNA Molecular Biology symposium on May 10
20 May 2024
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Sara Rouhanifard — Center for RNA Molecular Biology symposium
Sara Rouhanifard, assistant professor in the bioengineering department at Northeastern University, speaking at the inaugural Center for RNA Molecular Biology symposium

Scientists from prominent U.S. research institutions, including Sara Rouhanifard, assistant professor in the bioengineering department at Northeastern University, gathered recently at Penn State University Park for the inaugural Center for RNA Molecular Biology symposium, a one-day conference that brought together experts from varied fields around topics ranging from RNA chemistry to computational biology.
 
“What my lab is very interested in studying,” Rouhanifard said, “is how mRNA modifications contribute to diverse gene expression that will generate different cell types.”
 
In her presentation, Rouhanifard discussed one of the main questions her lab is trying to answer: How do mRNA modifications regulate gene expression?
 
Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is a type of RNA molecule that serves as a template for the formation of a protein, from information encoded by a genetic sequence, in a process known as gene expression.
 
Rouhanifard also introduced three major challenges that her lab is working on overcoming: mapping the RNA modification, quantifying how many mRNAs are modified inside of a cell, and determining what the functional impact is of a single modification on an mRNA.
 
One of the stated goals for the symposium was to open the pathways of communication between experts, which could lead to future collaborations. Paul Babitzke and Philip Bevilacqua, co-directors of the Center for RNA Molecular Biology, noted that they plan to continue hosting the symposium annually and connecting and collaborating with researchers from other universities who are studying RNA.