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2019

  • Stacey presented at the Prep student symposium.
  • Anna presented research done in the Piccirilli Lab at the Polish Exhange Student Symposium – good job!
  • Michael has been selected to receive a 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF). Congratulations Michael!
  • Michael has passed his candidacy examination – congratulations Michael!

2018

  • Huw has been given adminstrative responsibilities over the Piccirilli website. Stay tuned to see if this was a poor decision.
  • Stacey presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
  • Joe spoke at Simon Fraser University on ‘Chaperone-assisted RNA Crystallography’ and the lates suite of fabs and new RNA structures.
  • Saurja spoke at the 38th Annual Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference (MECC) hosted by Northwestern University. His talk was entitled:”RNA Catalysis: A journey to complexity”
  • UChicagoGrad featured the lab in their annual Lab Crawl.
  • Joe is elected to the Editorial Board of RNA.
  • The lab welcomes Stacey Jones. Stacey will be staying with us for the next year. All the best!
  • The lab welcomes Chemistry graduate student, Huw Rees. All the best!
  • Daniel presented research done in the Piccirilli Lab at the Polish Exhange Student Symposium. Great job Dan!
  • The lab welcomes Khorana Scholar Irene Abraham from Ferguson College, Pune, India. All the best and enjoy the experience!
  • Deepak gave a talk at the 23rd Annual RNA Meeting at Berkelely. His talk was entitled “Antibody assisted crystallization of an essential RNA domain from hepatitis A virus”
  • Saurja participated in the University of Chicago’s THREE-MINUTE THESIS competition and was placed first in the STEM category and second overall. His presentation was entitled: “In the beginning was… RNA”
  • Saurja defended his dissertation entitled: “RNA Catalysis: Structure, Function and Evolution”.
  • Joe spoke at the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. His talk was entitled- ‘Emergence of ribnuclease activity in ribozymes through intersection of neutral networks’.
  • Ben gave a talk at the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. His talk was entitled-‘Probing general acid-base catalysis in Varkud satellite ribozyme with minimally perturbative nucleobase analogs’.
  • Saurja presented a poster at the  Gordon Research Conference on The Origins of Life in Galveston, Texas. His poster was titled – ‘Emergence of ribonuclease activity in ribozymes via intersection of neutral networks’.
  • The lab welcomes Chemistry first year graduate student Michael Disare, who would work toward his PhD dissertation in the Piccirilli lab in collaboration with the Dickinson lab in the Chemistry department. Welcome on-board Michael!

2017

  • The lab says goodbye to Sandip. Sandip joins Palleon Pharma in Waltam, MA. Thank you Sandip for the all the good times.
  • Congrats Deepak and Sandip for their paper, just accepted in Nucleic Acids Research. Their work describes a dual strategy for obtaining high affinity antibody binders toward structured RNA loops. This paper contains contributions from a high school student, an undergraduate, a grad student and three postdocs – a true collaborative effort! Read the story here.
  • Saurja presented a poster at the Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference in Chicago. His poster was titled-‘Emergence of ribonuclease activity in ribozymes through intersection of neutral networks’.
  • Saurja gave a talk at the Rustbelt RNA Meeting in Indianapolis. The talk was titled – ‘A tale of two RNAs – Ribozymes, Survival, (R)Evolution’.
  • Crystal structure of the VS ribozyme elucidates the structural mechanisms that result in an activated substrate, leading to  site-specific RNA cleavage – a question that’s about two decades old. Read the story here.
  • Saurja’s VS ribozyme structure paper is accepted in JACS.
  • Saurja wins the Graduate Council Travel Fund Award.
  • Saurja presented a poster at the Gordon Research Conference on Nucleic Acids in Biddeford, Maine. His poster was titled – ‘Towards common evolutionary origins of the VS and Hairpin ribozymes’ .
  • The lab welcomes Daniel, a Polish masters student who will work on his masters thesis here. All the best, Dan!
  • The lab bids Artur adieu. All the Best for your future!
  • Artur presented research done in the Piccirilli Lab at the Polish Exhange Student Symposium. Great job Artur!
  • Sandip gave a talk at the ChicagoLand RNA Club. The title of his talk was “Structure of a New Fluorescent RNA Aptamer with Promiscous Ligand Specificity”.
  • Saurja was a speaker at the SACNAS Chicago Conference. His talk was titled ‘A Tale of Two RNAs: Ribozymes-Survival-(R)Evolution’.
  • Tina helped organize SACNAS Chicago 2017, Great job Tina!
  • Saurja wins the Windt Graduate Student Travel Award.
  • Saurja presented a poster at the ASBMB Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2017 in Chicago. His poster was titled ‘Crystal structure of the Varkud Satellite ribozyme: A peek into trans-active enzymes of the RNA World’.
  • Yaming gave a talk at the University of Chicago Structure Club, where he spoke about structures of RNA nanoparticles designed to assume interesting 2D and 3D topologies. This work has been done in collaboration with the Weizmann Lab in the Department of Chemistry. Yaming’s talk was titled –  “Crystal structures of rationally designed RNA nanoparticles”
  • The Lengyel lab at the Department Ob/Gyn, UChicago and the Piccirilli lab developed a method to detect ovarian cancer via prolactin receptor mediated delivery of MRI-constrast agents. Read the story here. The paper is published in Cancer Research. Congrats Karthik !!
  • Our crystal structure of the VS ribozyme is featured in the third RNA Puzzles paper. Read the paper here and visit the RNA Puzzles website here.
  • Saurja spoke at ‘Tiger Talk’, an intradepartmental Seminar organized by students in the Chemistry Department. He spoke about his graduate research that encompassed structural investigations of ribozymes and the use of RNA aptamers for sensing.
  • Saurja was an invited speaker at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata (IISER Kolkata), in India. His talk was titled: “Chasing RNA: ‘Primitive’ molecules to ‘Modern’ devices.”
  • Saurja was an invited speaker at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, in India. His talk was titled: “Chasing SCIENCE: ‘Primitive’ molecules and ‘Modern’ devices.”
  • Saurja presented a poster titled ‘A highly selective RNA-based sensor for Lead’ at the Symposium on Advanced Biological Inorganic Chemistry (SABIC) in Kolkata, India.

2016

  • Sandip presented his work on antibody engineering and library design for development of RNA binding Fabs at the Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics Meeting in San Diego.
  • Saurja was an invited speaker at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay(IIT Bombay) in Mumbai, India. He spoke about how RNA enzymes carry out biomolecular cataysis.
  • Congrats Nan-sheng for his recent paper in Bioconjugate Chemistry on the synthesis of DNA-Dasatanib conjugates. Read the story here.
  • Saurja presented a poster titled ‘Crystal structure of the Varkud Satellite ribozyme: A peek into trans-active enzymes of the RNA World’ at the 36th Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference in Chicago. Saurja was awarded the ACS Chemical Biology Outstanding Poster Award.
  • Congrats Yaming and Hao for their recent JMB paper on Chaperone-assisted RNA Crystallography. Read the story here.
  • Nan-sheng presented a poster titled ‘Synthesis and Evaluation of Drug-DNA Conjugated Gold Nanoparticles Activated by Cancer Cell Specific mRNA’ at the 252nd ACS Meeting in Philadelphia.
  • Goodbye Patrycja! We had a great year with you, all the best for future.
  • The lab welcomes Polish exchange student Artur Laski. All the best Artur!
  • Patrycja presented research done in the Piccirilli Lab for her Master’s thesis at the Polish Exhange Student Symposium. Great job Patrycja!
  • The lab welcomes Bose Scholar Blessy Suresh from NISER,Bhubaneshwar, India. All the best and enjoy the experience!
  • Christina Roman, a first year graduate student in the Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, joins the Piccirilli lab. All the Best, Tina!
  • Saurja’s commentary piece titled “Pseudoscience- In Theory and Practice: A Reply to Shanta and Muni’s ‘Why Biology is Beyond Physical Sciences?'” is published  in Advances in Life Sciences. Read it here.
  • Saurja was a speaker at the Chicago RNA Club meeting. His talk was titled: ‘The Crystal structure of the Varkud Satellite ribozyme: A peek into trans-acting ribozymes of the RNA World’.

2015

  • Saurja and Deepak spoke at the inaugural NIH Chemical-Biology InterfaceLuncheon at the university.
  • Nikolai and Saurja’s paper titled “Crystal structure of the Varkud satellite ribozyme” is published in Nature Chemical Biology. Read the story here and the News & Views here.
  • The lab welcomes David Zdunek. David is a synthetic organic chemist and will be joining forces with our master-chef Nan-sheng to cook up interesting molecules.
  • Our lab solved the first crystal structures of the Varkud Satellite ribozyme (thus presenting the first high-resolution structure of this RNA that had eluded high-resolution structure determination for two and a half decades). These structures reveal intriguing aspects of a trans-acting nucleolytic ribozyme and has important implications in RNA folding and catalysis.
  • Joe presented the lab’s pioneering work on the in-vitro selection of antibodies against RNA and its application in RNA Crystallography at the Transcriptomics Conference in Orlando, Florida.
  • Piccirilli and Benner groups joined hands to deliver the first molecular structure  of a functional RNA molecule built from a six nucleotide alphabet (G, A, U, C, and the artificial nucleotides Z and P). Read the work here.
  • Armando and Yaming’s paper on the crystal structure of the guanine riboswitch containg AEGIS base pairs Z and P make the cover of Angewandte Chemie. Congrats guys !!
  • The lab welcomes Marcel, Stormy and Patricjya; Marcel is a high school student, studying at Lab School, Stormy is a summer undergraduate intern and Patricjya joins us from Poland. All the best, guys !
  • Selene’s work on the catalytic mechanism of the Hepatic Delta Virus (HDV) ribozyme has been accepted in JACS. Congrats!
  • Nan-Sheng, Sandip, Deepak and Yaming attended the 20th Annual RNA Meeting at Madison, Wisconsin. Nan-Sheng and Sandip presented posters.
  • Joe organized the Chemistry-Biology Interface Minisymposium featuring new faculty members and senior grad students in the Department of Chemistry.
  • Saurja’s paper on the application of the Spinach RNA aptamer as a highly selective lead (II) sensor has been accepted in ChemComm. This paper describes the development of the very first RNA-based sensor for detecting lead (II). Read the paper here.
  • Congrats Ben on his first scientific publication! Read his review titled ‘Heavy Atom Labeled Nucleotides for Measurement of Kinetic Isotope Effects’ here.
  • Daniel Cho, a first year graduate student in the Dept. of Chemistry, joins the Piccirilli Lab. All the best for future, Dan!
  • Joe was an invited speaker at the 249th ACS Meeting at Denver. The title of his talk was “Crystallization and structure of a functional riboswitch bearing an unnatural base pair”.
  • Saurja presented his work titled ‘A highly selective RNA-based sensor for lead (II)’ at the 249th ACS Meeting at Denver. Saurja was awarded the ACS, Division of Biological Chemistry Travel Award.
  • Hao Huang has graduated with his PhD.  Congratulations Dr. Huang !! Hao would be joining Roche, Shanghai. All the best for your new career
  • Sandip’s News & Views titled ‘Origins of Life: RNA made in its own image’ is published in Nature. Read the paper here.

2014


  • Hao and Sandip attended the Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics Meeting at Huntington Beach, California. Hao presented his work on antibody engineering and library design for development of RNA binding Fabs.
  • The lab welcomes Yaming to his new Post-doctoral position. Hope you have a succesful stay.
  • Nan-sheng’s paper titled ‘Synthesis and Incorporation of the Phosphoramidite Derivative of 2′-O-Photocaged 3′-S-Thioguanosine into Oligoribonucleotides: Substrate for Probing the Mechanism of RNA Catalysis’ is accepted in JOC. Congrats Nan-sheng! Read the paper here.
  • Our Spinach RNA paper is discussed in News & Views in Nature. Read it here.
  • Ben succesfully qualified his candidacy exam. Congrats!
  • Armando joins Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, California as a Scientist Group Leader. Congrats and all the best for your new career. You will be missed!
  • Deepak gets interviewed by NepaChem where he talks about his career, success stories and future goals. Read the interview here.
  • Our paper on the Spinach RNA Crystal structure is recommended in the Faculty of 1000 (F1000 Prime).
  • Our new website is launched ! Find us @ https://piccirillilab.uchicago.edu
  • Saurja and Hao presented their research at the RNA Meeting 2014 in Quebec City, Canada. Saurja presented a poster on his crystal structures of the Varkud Satellite Ribozyme and Hao gave a talk on his crystal structure of ‘Spinach’. Saurja was awarded the RNA Society Travel Award.
  • Saieesh got the summer research grant from the University of Chicago to work at the Piccirilli Lab. Congrats and all the best!
  • The lab welcomes Saieesh Rao, Benjamin Weisman and Deepak Koirala. Saieesh starts his undergraduate research, Ben his graduate career and Deepak his post-doc career at the Piccirilli lab.
  • Karthik graduates from The Pritzker School of Medicine with an M.D. and will do his residency at the Dept. of Radiology, Vanderbilt University. Congrats Dr. Sundaram, again !
  • Joe is awarded this years BSD Faculty award for outstanding collaborative research  along with long time collaborator Jon Staley (MCBG) ” for their beautiful work on pre-mRNA splicing”. Proud of you Joe ! Read about their discovery here.
  • Hao presented a poster on his crystal structures of the Spinach RNA aptamer at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.
  • Hao solved the structure of the Spinach RNA aptamer – the RNA analog of GFP. This structure paves way for further structure-guided designing and use of Spinach for downstream application. It’s just accepted in Nature Chemical Biology.  Congrats Hao! Find the story here.

2013


  • Nicole joins University of Toledo as a post-doc in Science Education. Do some good work there Nicole !
  • Our Nature paper on the catalytic mechanism of the spliceosome is highlighted in the Faculty of 1000 (F1000 Prime).
  • Nicole and Sebastian’s paper on the spliceosome is accepted in Nature. Congrats! Read the News & Views and Cell Preview.
  • Nicole Tuttle successfully defended her thesis and graduated with her PhD. Congratulations Dr. Tuttle.
  • Our lab, in collaboration with the Staley lab, recently demonstrated that one of the RNA components of the spliceosome, U6 snRNA, catalyzes the two steps of splicing.
  • Saurja succesfully qualified his candidacy exam. Congrats!
  • Sandip joins the lab as a Post-Doc after a succesful graduate career at the Sigurdsson Lab.. Welcome and all the best.
  • Nikolai joins Takeda Pharmaceuticals at San Diego, California. All the best for the new endeavor !

2012


  • Nikolai Suslov has graduated with his Ph.D. Congrats Dr. Suslov!
  • Armando joins the lab as a Post-Doc from the Kool lab. All the Best !
  • Our work in RNA crystallography was featured in Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source annual report .
  • Former graduate student John Fredrickson used metal rescue experiments to distinguish inner sphere metal ions in a non-coding RNA from outer sphere metals. Read the paper here.
  • Joseph Piccirilli has been promoted to full professor as of July 1, 2012. Congrats Joe!
  • Check out the latest publication from the Piccirilli lab on proofreading in the yeast spliceosome.

2011


2010


  • Check out the latest publication from the Piccirilli lab on proofreading in the yeast spliceosome.
  • Graduate student Nicole Tuttle recently won an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. See the news story here.