Robert Spitale, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Institution
University of California, Irvine
Address
Natural Sciences I Rm. 2403
City, State, Zip
Irvine, CA 92617
Phone
(716) 969-2573
E-mail
rspitale[at]uci.edu
Website
www.spitalelab.com
Research Field
Chemical Biology
Award Year
2017

Research

My lab is working to develop powerful new tools for visualizing the production, localization, and structure of RNA molecules within different living cell types. RNAs are becoming increasingly recognized for their role in regulating a host of critical cell functions—from gene activation and protein production to the molecular events that govern cell division. How this versatile molecule carries out such diverse functions is an active area of investigation. As a postdoctoral fellow, I developed tools for probing the structure of RNA in living cells. Using an array of techniques in biochemistry, genetics, cell and molecular imaging, and bioinformatics, I will devise additional methods for tracking the production of RNAs in real time and mapping their precise subcellular positions. In one application, for example, I will determine the identity and location of the RNAs produced by stem cells that are transplanted into the brain following radiation—work that will elucidate how these cells remodel their genetic program to integrate into the brain’s circuitry and point toward potentially novel therapeutics for neurological impairments.