John Rinn: The genetic origamist
John Rinn has the distinction of being named by Popular Science magazine as one of the “brilliant 10” young geniuses shaking up science today. In this video story he shows us why. Rinn is immersed in the relatively obscure world of lincRNA (large intergenic non-coding RNA) that might just hold some critical clues about human biology and disease.
ABOUT JOHN RINN
Named to Popular Science's Brilliant 10 list of young geniuses shaking up science today, John Rinn is a "genomic origamist" turning genetic trash into treasure by proving that "junk" RNA is a potential linchpin of human health. The avid skateboarder turned pathologist is an associate member of the Broad Institute and assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. John’s graduate research was one of the first to discover an abundance of RNA molecules emanating from non-coding, often referred to as ‘junk regions’ of the human genome. He continued to pursue these mysterious RNA molecules for his postdoctoral work leading to the discovery of a novel type of non-coding RNA, termed HOTAIR, encoded on one chromosome that silences a large region on a different chromosome. This work also revealed a genetic code of large non-coding RNAs and HOX genes that determine the localization of an adult human skin cell in the body, similar to the way a GPS system locates a person’s position on earth (latitude, longitude and altitude), in this case by triangulation of three genetic axes.
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