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Headshot of Chad Pecot.
UNC Lineberger’s Chad Pecot, MD, directs the UNC RNA Discovery Center.

The UNC RNA Discovery Center held its inaugural retreat May 21 to bring together its members and trainees to present and discuss RNA science being conducted across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and beyond. It also focused on how university-industry partnerships can expedite the translation of laboratory discoveries into potential new therapies for a range of diseases and health conditions.

Established in 2022 with funding support from UNC Lineberger, the center has quickly become a leading center for RNA research, with a focus on the form, function and clinical applications of RNA. UNC Lineberger’s Chad Pecot, MD, directs the center, which now has more than 40 faculty and 160 members overall from across UNC School of Medicine, UNC Lineberger, UNC College of Arts and Sciences, and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

The daylong meeting featured talks and poster presentations by faculty and trainees, including Ike Emerson, the Bill Marzluff Graduate Student Fellowship Award recipient, Jackson Trotman, PhD, the Bill Marzluff Postdoctoral Fellowship Award recipient, and Josh Boyer, PhD, one of the RDC Collaborative Team Science Fellowship Award recipients.

Caption available.
Keynote speaker Frank Slack presents at the inaugural RNA Discovery Retreat.

Frank Slack, PhD, director of the Harvard Medical School Initiative for RNA Medicine and co-director of the Precision RNA Medicine Core at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, presented the keynote talk on microRNA therapeutics in cancer. Katie Warner, PhD, senior vice president RNA biology at Ribometrix and company co-founder, shared her company’s journey as a UNC biotech startup.

The retreat was supported in part with funding from SynOligo and UNC Lineberger.

“I’m excited to see how far our center has come, which we started mid-pandemic. A silver lining of that era was that RNA has proven to be a safe and effective medicine worldwide, mounting a timely surge in interest around RNA,” said Pecot, professor at UNC School of Medicine and co-leader of the UNC Lineberger Molecular Therapeutics Research Program. “Our center is full of exceptional faculty that study a wide range of disciplines in RNA structure, biology and therapeutics. The retreat very nicely captured this talent and celebrated the many successes of our trainees.”