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About the RNA Bioscience Initiative



The mission of the RNA Bioscience Initiative (RBI) is to cultivate a vibrant center of discovery and innovation in RNA biology, informatics, diagnostics, and therapy. Our goal is to provide a fluid pipeline from basic to clinical RNA research at the Anschutz Medical Campus.


Specific Objectives of the RBI

  • Engage in collaborative, multidisciplinary, cutting-edge RNA research
  • Train the next generation of RNA researchers
  • Develop a strong RNA-focused community that includes a broad spectrum of participants
  • Leverage existing local and regional strengths in RNA research to expand RBI programming and public outreach
  • Establish academic-corporate partnerships to accelerate translation of discoveries in basic RNA biology to clinically useful diagnostics and therapeutics
Five new RBI faculty

History of the RBI

The RNA Bioscience Initiative was started in January 2016 with $20 million in funding from the Dean’s Office of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The program’s first director, Richard Davis, PhD, in collaboration with then associate directors David Bentley, PhD and Jay Hesselberth, PhD, quickly established a system of support and programming to expand RNA-focused research on the CU Anschutz campus. In addition, they recruited five new faculty– all young, rising stars in the field of RNA biology; and reconnected to the RNA community at CU Boulder, which includes foundational RNA researchers Thomas Cech (Nobel Prize, 1989), Roy Parker (HHMI Investigator, Director BioFrontiers Institute) and many others. These first moves re-energized local and regional interest in RNA biology and lead to the establishment of the RBI as a nationally recognized, cutting-edge hub for RNA research.

Return on Investment in the RBI

Since its inception in January 2016 the RBI has:

  1. Nearly tripled in size, growing from 33 faculty members to 89+ faculty members (and their affiliated labs)
  2. Supported the publication of 78+ research articles
  3. Invested in 106+ RNA-focused pilot research projects
  4. Enhanced training in RNA biology, awarding 16+ RBI RNA Scholars fellowships and 59+ RBI Summer Internships
  5. Established the RBI Bioinformatics Fellows, a unique team that both develops and disseminates informatics knowledge and software critical to analyses of the large data sets inherent to nucleic acids research
  6. Hosted or co-hosted a variety of community-building events, including the highly successful Rocky Mountain RNA Symposium