Hesselberth Lab

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
RNA Bioscience Initiative
University of Colorado School of Medicine

We are a group of RNA biologists, technology developers, and data analysts on a mission to discover and leverage fundamental principles of RNA regulation.

The broad goals of our laboratory are to:

  • Understand how RNA damage and repair are integrated with stress responses (funded by an NIGMS MIRA)
  • Develop new molecular methods that enhance single-cell and spatial gene expression experiments (funded by an NIH Transformative R01)
  • Develop and apply RNA therapeutics that modulate gene expression (funded by the RNA Bioscience Initiative)

A major effort in the lab focuses on the biology of RNA damage and repair using a combination of method development, bioinformatics, genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology. Over the past ten years we have developed new sequencing approaches to identify damaged RNAs and new model systems with which to understand the causes and consequences of RNA damage. Our studies have led to new concepts in post-transcriptional regulation that have broad implications for understanding the role of RNA damage in biology.

A second effort focuses on the development of novel technologies for analysis of additional phenotypes in single-cell and spatial gene expression approaches. Our recent advances include the measurement of enzyme activity and inhibition in single-cell assays, tracking of ligands and associated gene expression responses through animal tissue, and approaches for quantifying metabolite levels.

The newest efforts in the lab focus on RNA therapeutics. One is a collaboration with clinicians at Colorado Children’s Hospital to develop RNA therapies for treatment of pediatric neurological diseases. A second area of emphasis is on development of mRNA vaccines that promote unique immune responses for therapeutic purposes.

Finally, we host the Informatics Fellows of the RNA Bioscience Initiative, who develop and apply bioinformatic approaches with investigators across our campus to enable widespread deployment of new RNA analysis technologies.


Nov 23, 2022 Jill Bilodeaux joined us for a rotation in the Microbiology Program.
Sep 4, 2022 Ralf Dagdag joined us for a rotation in the Biomedical Sciences Program.
Jul 9, 2022 Congratulations to Dr. Laura White on defending her thesis!
Jun 5, 2022 Welcome Jayla McGowan from the RBI Summer Internship Program!
Jan 8, 2022 Katie Vaeth joined us for a rotation in the Molecular Biology Program.