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National Researcher to Discuss mRNA Vaccines, Treatments in UW Seminar

November 3, 2021

A National Cancer Institute (NCI) researcher whose work is directly relevant to messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine development is scheduled to present a University of Wyoming seminar Friday, Nov. 12.

Jordan Meier is a senior investigator and head of the Epigenetics and Metabolism Section within the Chemical Biology Laboratory in the Center for Cancer Research of the NCI. His presentation, “Understanding the Chemistry of Volcanic RNA to Treat Cancer and COVID-19,” is part of the UW Department of Molecular Biology’s seminar series.

The presentation, set for 2:30 p.m., will be available via Zoom at

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which use mRNA created in a laboratory -- not weakened or inactivated germs, as with many vaccines -- to teach human cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. While these vaccines use new technology, researchers have been studying them for decades. Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.

While Meier’s talk will focus on technical aspects of RNA chemistry and molecular biology, he is expected to discuss how his work relates to mRNA vaccines.

Specifically, Meier will introduce his group’s work developing chemical tools to investigate RNA acetylation; why this led to study of an organism that thrives in volcanic craters; and how fundamental studies such as these are being used to fuel new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of cancer and COVID-19.

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