Pioneering Research Efforts at the BioFrontiers Institute

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John Rinn, University of Colorado Boulder

As a doctoral student at Yale University, John Rinn began groundbreaking research in the field of genetics. Following the discovery of a type of RNA known as LINC (large intervening non-coding RNA), John Rinn continued his research as a professor at Harvard University until 2017, when he accepted the Marvin H. Caruthers Endowed Chair for Early-Career Faculty at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he also serves as the Leslie Orgel Professor of RNA Science.

Headed by Nobel Prize recipient Thomas Cech, the BioFrontiers Institute operates under the umbrella of the University of Colorado Boulder. It focuses particularly on cutting-edge research efforts, drawing innovative minds from around the world.

In order to create an environment for its pioneering research, the BioFrontiers Institute encompasses experienced faculty members from a diverse range of academic backgrounds. By bringing together researchers in physical and life sciences as well as professionals in engineering and computer science, the institute encourages exciting collaboration in areas such as genome exploration.

For more information about the BioFrontiers Institute and its current research efforts, visit http://www.colorado.edu/biofrontiers.

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Discovery of HOTAIR, FIRRE and other lncRNAs

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A former professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University, John Rinn recently became the Marvin H. Caruthers Endowed Chair for Early-Career Faculty at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is also the Leslie Orgel Professor of RNA Science. While studying for his PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University, John Rinn discovered that the human genome encoded numerous new RNA genes call long noncoding RNAs or large intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNA)

Known for its pivotal role in the body along with proteins and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid) aids cells in carrying out the genetic code. Scientists have begun to discover more and more types of RNA, revealing its crucial role in the cellular process, a role better likened to director than helper.

One important example of this perspective comes from the discovery of HOTAIR and its functions. Research reveals that the molecule guides the response of the immune system, controls cancer growth, oversees the production of fat and stem cells, and transports proteins to gene clusters, among other activities.

Since this early finding the Rinn laboratory has been working harder to find lncRNA loci that when removed from an animal cause dramatic changes to the animals physiology such or a phenotype. This has lead to the discovery of FIRRE that is required to generate key stem cell populations in the immune system. However, too much FIRRE will over-ride some immune responses leading to death. Thus the FIRRE RNA gene is a new clue into how the human immune system has evolved and functions.

The next step for researchers will be to understand how these lncRNAs function on a molecular level. Once the molecular logic of these mysterious RNA genes in uncovered scientists can begin to explore new avenues for lncRNA therapeutics.

discover the genetic code behind the function of HOTAIR and other LINCs. Further discoveries in this field could provide substantial benefits in terms of improving health and wellness through manipulation of the genome.

The Editorial and Publishing Standards at Genome Biology

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As a HHMI early career scientist, John Rinn dedicates his research to RNA biology. Specifically, focusing on how long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) genes can play important biological roles as RNA molecules (rather than the more commonly studied protein based genes). John Rinn teaches courses at the University of Colorado Boulder as the Leslie Orgel Professor of RNA Science. Outside his basic research, John Rinn also serves on the editorial board of Genome Biology, a leading peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal.

Genome Biology is committed to publishing exceptional research in all areas of biomedicine and biology studied through a post-genomic and genomic lens. For its work, Thomson Reuters listed Genome Biology the fourth-ranked journal in terms of impact in the Genetics and Heredity category. Here are several editorial and publishing practices at Genome Biology that have contributed to its status within the industry.

1. The journal has more than 46,000 followers on its Twitter account and is dedicated to promoting its content both through its social media presence, well-designed homepage, and press releases.

2. Committed to editorial transparency, Genome Biology publishes a peer reviewer report with every article it publishes. (This practice pertains to submissions starting on January 1, 2019.)

3. To better serve authors, reviewers, and readers, the journal maintains high standards of hospitality throughout the publishing process, including proactive communication on the progress of a manuscript.