User:Brandon S. Russell

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Brandon S. Russell


Brandon is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. He was born and raised in the heart of the deep south in southern Mississippi, and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 2008. When he's not elbows-deep in RNA, he can generally be found volunteering as an EMT with the MIT ambulance or making appearances at local karaoke bars, where he's better known as "51 Cent".

Research Summary

Brandon works in the laboratory of Professor Peter Dedon, investigating the scope and function of endogenous RNA secondary modifications in human pathogens. In addition to the five canonical nucleoside bases (adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine, and uracil), more than 100 modified bases have been discovered from all domains of life. These are produced by enzymatic modification of the canonical bases, and can be found throughout tRNA, helping establish its unique secondary structure. Identification of modified bases unique to human pathogens could lead to the development of novel biomarkers of infection. In addition, modification of the wobble base in the anticodon loop can enhance the affinity of a charged tRNA for its cognate mRNA, thereby increasing translational efficiency and biasing the production of proteins enriched for a given codon. Characterizing such systems in human pathogens could reveal novel therapeutic targets.


  • Ph.D. (in progress), Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • B.S. Magna Cum Laude, 2008, Chemistry, University of Mississippi

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