The Institute is pleased to welcome Dr Yiliang Ding to the Institute as an honorary group leader, extending the Institute’s affiliate programme to five appointments. Dr Ding is a group leader in the Genes in the Environment research programme at the John Innes Centre and her research investigates the role of RNA structure in gene regulation, in processes such as translation, spicing and degradation, with a focus on understanding the dynamics of RNA structure in living cells. Her group has established several experimental and analytical approaches to investigate RNA structure and RNA–protein interactions.
Dr Ding’s appointment as an honorary group leader was established from a collaboration between Dr Ding and Dr Claudia Ribeiro de Almeida, a group leader in the Institute’s Immunology research programme. Dr Ribeiro de Almeida and Dr Ding have worked together to perform RNA chemical probing experiments and understand how the RNA folding landscape of B-lymphocytes changes during differentiation. The work is part of Dr Ribeiro de Almeida’s research investigating RNA helicase function in B-lymphocyte biology.
Dr Ribeiro de Almeida said: “It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Yiliang Ding’s appointment as an honorary group leader at the Babraham Institute. Yiliang’s work is at the leading edge of our understanding of the dynamics of RNA structure in living cells. Having her expertise on board will certainly impact the way we study gene regulation across all research programmes at the Institute.”
Dr Ding commented: “I am very excited to be involved in the research programmes at the Babraham Institute. The exploration of RNA structure functionalities in regulating gene expression in lymphocytes will be an important step towards our understanding of immunity.”
In recent years, Dr Ding’s research has pioneered the development of new methodology to profile RNA structure transcriptome-wide (ref. 1 below), and at the single-molecule level (ref. 2). These studies represent a step-change in the study of gene regulation in plants, and hold the potential to open up new avenues for RNA biology research across other systems.
The expertise Dr Ding and her group established will enhance the exploration of RNA structure-mediated gene regulation in different research programmes at Babraham Institute. For instance, the molecular processes controlling the development and function of lymphocytes involves diverse post-transcriptional, RNA-centric regulatory steps. This is an emerging area of research and fertile ground for discoveries, with impact in our future ability to improve human health using RNA therapeutics.
Dr Ding joins the Institute’s other honorary group leaders: Professor Wolf Reik from the Altos Cambridge Institute of Science, Professor Kathy Niakan from the Francis Crick Institute and Professor Martin Howard from the John Innes Centre, who are all honorary group leaders within the Institute’s Epigenetics programme, and Professor Valerie O’Donnell, Professor of Biochemistry at Cardiff University, who is an honorary group leader in the Signalling programme.
Dr Louisa Wood, Head of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
Main image: An image generated by DALL-E based on the request: an artistic representations of RNA structure functionalities involved in cellular processes and functions.
Inset image: Dr Yiliang Ding
1 Ding Y, Tang Y, Kwok CK, Zhang Y, Bevilacqua PC, Assmann SM (2014) In vivo genome-wide profiling of RNA secondary structure reveals novel regulatory features. Nature
2 Yang M, Zhu P, Cheema J, Bloomer R, Mikulski P, Liu Q, Zhang Y, Dean C, Ding Y (2022). In vivo single-molecule analysis reveals COOLAIR RNA structural diversity. Nature
13 March 2023