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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

RNA Biology Research Group

BSMS > Research > Clinical and experimental medicine > RNA-Biology-Research-Group

RNA Biology Research Group

The RNA Biology Group is a network of seven laboratories based in BSMS as well as Life Sciences, University of Sussex. 
Someone wearing a white lab coat and purple latex gloves pouring a clear liquid into a petri dish


Members of the group share common interests in the way that RNA molecules can regulate the expression of genes important for cellular processes such as proliferation and migration, as well as human diseases. The group works on interlinked but complementary projects using a diverse range of organisms and techniques with the ultimate aim of understanding the ways that RNA-based regulation can be manipulated to alleviate human disease.

The RNA Biology group meet regularly to share ideas and discuss their research findings. They also collaborate in dissemination of technical skills between postdocs, PhD students, Masters students and undergraduate students to encourage and train the next generation of RNA biologists.

The group continues to work together in the purchase of specialist equipment (a polysome profiling machine) and to fund external speakers and workshops (eg a RNA Salon grant from the RNA Society). 

The RNA research group is funded by the MRC, BBSRC, Action for Cancer, Motor Neurone Disease Association, LUPUS UK, the RNA Society, BSMS and Life Sciences.

Meet the team

Members of the group and their specific research interests are listed below: 

1. Dr Leandro Castellano (Life Sciences): Role of non-coding RNAs in cancer. Dr Monika Gugh (postdoc), Paola Dama (postdoc), Qi Liu (postdoc), Tom Stiff (postdoc) and Salih Bayraktar (PhD student). 

2. Prof Juan Pablo Couso (BSMS): function and evolution of non-coding RNAs (smORFs and lncRNAs) in Drosophila. Dr Inyaki Pueyo-Marques (postdoc).

3. Prof Majid Hafezparast (Life Sciences): non-coding RNAs as biomarkers in motor neurone disease and progressive supranuclear palsy patients and their role in neuroinflammation. Dr Greig Joilin (postdoc) and Dr Fabio Simoes (postdoc) and Eleni Christoforidou (PhD student).

4. Prof Simon Morley (Life Sciences): Control of protein translation by cell signalling pathways. 

5. Dr Tracy Nissan (Life Sciences): RNA granules in gene regulation. Alistair Tweedie (PhD student).

6. Prof Sarah Newbury (BSMS): RNA stability in development and disease; microRNAs and long-noncoding RNAs in cell proliferation and apoptosis. Group members: Dr Ben Towler (postdoc), Clare Rizzo-Singh (research technician), Oliver Rogoyski (PhD student) and Elisa Bernard (PhD student).

7. Prof Sandra Sacre (BSMS): control of inflammation by microRNAs; microRNAs as biomarkers in "chemobrain". Sarah Unterburger (PhD student). 

A photograph from an RNA event, showing bunting with flags of the world, with people sitting on the grass eating.


The Sussex RNA Research Group meetings take place in Life Sciences 4D13 every Tuesday from 3-4pm. The programme is available from Prof Sarah Newbury (

Microscopic image showing RNA