A breif introduction to our research
RNA is typically understood as an intermediary molecule between DNA and protein. But, some noncoding RNAs, as well as the noncoding regions of messenger RNA, have been well appreciated as important regulators of gene expression and cellular functions. As increasing numbers of noncoding RNAs are implicated in development and diseases, the forefront of current RNA research centers on understanding its regulatory roles beyond coding potential. The Hwang laboratory investigates the roles of regulatory RNAs in the nervous system and aims to understand the RNA-based mechanisms in neural development and brain disorders. We develop computational methods and genomic assays to map regulatory RNAs in the human genome and apply high-throughput tools to evaluate the effects of risk variations on RNA-mediated regulatory mechanisms. Current research projects include characterizing small RNA expression in human brain development, identifying RNA elements driving RNA’s subcellular localization in neurons, and evaluating psychiatric risk variations on RNA-protein interaction dysregulation.