New therapies expected from better understanding of RNA, says UH prof

HOUSTON, Oct. 4, 2005 One professor's research in RNA with immediate application in monitoring bacteria in the environment and potentially allowing for advances in biotechnology will be discussed at the annual University of Houston Sigma Xi lecture at 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 10. The event is open to the public.

As the 2005 recipient of the Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, George E. Fox, UH professor of biology and biochemistry and professor of chemical engineering, will present a lecture on his explorations in a local region of RNA sequence space. He will describe studies that provide a better understanding of what is possible and what is not when modifying a naturally occurring RNA. This work furthers efforts to develop general design principles for RNA that can be used in emerging biotechnology applications. This is especially significant now because RNA has recently been discovered to be unexpectedly involved in the regulation of gene expression in mammalian cells. Hence, the ability to design novel RNAs is expected to facilitate research leading to new therapies for a variety of human ailments.

The Scientific Research Society of Sigma Xi is the global honor society of scientists and engineers that promotes scientific achievement with chapters in every college and university in the United States. Some 180 Sigma Xi members are Nobel laureates and many more have been elected to the National Academies of Science and Engineering. The UH chapter of Sigma Xi is honoring Fox with the award "for distinguished contributions to scientific knowledge and its applications." The honor also includes a cash prize of $2,000.

Since coming to UH in 1977, Fox has held numerous positions including vice chair of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry from 1998 to 2000 and director of the Institute for Molecular Biology from 1988 to 2001. He is the author or co-author of more than 110 peer review publications and has received numerous honors and

Contact: Lisa Merkl
University of Houston

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