Ronald R. Breaker
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology
Ronald Breaker has used biochemistry and genetics to expand our understanding of the functions of RNA and DNA. Using directed evolution methods he created the first examples of engineered RNA switches and the first engineered enzymes made of DNA. His subsequent research validated the existence of metabolite-sensing RNAs that he named “riboswitches.” His laboratory has identified hundreds of classes of highly structured noncoding RNAs in bacteria and eukaryotes, including dozens of riboswitch candidates and large noncoding RNAs including novel ribozymes. These discoveries have enhanced our understanding of the important roles noncoding RNAs in the basic functions of modern cells.