Algorithms for RNA structural interaction prediction and antisense RNA design

Until recently, RNA was only considered to be a carrier of information from DNA to proteins. Because the functional roles of RNAs were largely unknown, their structural properties received limited attention. However, with the recent discovery of regulatory RNAs – RNAs that control the activity of genes – interest in the functionality of RNA has surged. Understanding their structure is a key starting point in determining how RNA molecules function. Dr. Cenk Sahinalp is using new approaches to increase the reliability of his previously-developed mathematical frameworks and corresponding algorithms for accurately predicting individual RNA structure and the joint structure of interacting RNA molecules. This includes the development of algorithms for designing RNAs that help regulate the expression of select genes. His long term goal is to help inform the development of artificial RNAs that might be used as therapies for disease.