Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Our laboratory is interested in unraveling the design principles that underlie the relationship between the sequence, structure and function of RNA molecules. Once thought to be a passive carrier of genetic information, RNAs are now understood to be essential to regulating and defending the genomes of all organisms. This broad array of function is hypothesized to be mediated by specific RNA structures that selectively interact with the cellular milieu. It is our goal to understand and design these structures so that we may utilize RNA function to engineer biomolecular systems as solutions to challenging problems in biology, medicine and biotechnology. To do this, we also work on developing technologies that can characterize RNA structures in massively high throughput to use as a diagnostic tool in our RNA engineering. This technology in turn opens new doors through which we can ask fundamental biological questions such as how specific RNA structures mediate cellular processes. With these fundamental investigations, we learn new RNA design principles that then feed back into our engineering methodology.
Email: jblucks [at] northwestern [dot] edu