User:James Chappell

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James Chappell


James Chappell,
Email -

Research Interests

I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Julius Lucks (Lucks Lab) at Northwestern University in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. I previously obtained my PhD in Molecular Biosciences under the supervision of Prof. Paul Freemont working at the Imperial College Center for Synthetic Biology and Innovation. As a postdoctoral researcher I have been investigating how RNAs can be engineered to create programmable regulators of gene expression for predictably engineering biological systems. RNAs are versatile (Check out figure below from [2]) , designable and composable regulators of gene expression, making then an ideal tool for engineering cells. One of the major achievements of my research was inventing an RNA-based regulator called Small Transcription Activating RNAs (STARs), which for the first time created small RNAs capable of activating transcription in bacteria (4).

Figure 1 CHAPPELL.jpg


1. Meyer, S., Chappell, J., Sankar, S., Chew, R. and Lucks, J.B. (2016) Improving fold activation of small transcription activating RNAs (STARs) with rational RNA engineering strategies. Biotechnology and bioengineering, 113, 216-225.

2. Chappell, J., Watters, K.E., Takahashi, M.K. and Lucks, J.B. (2015) A renaissance in RNA synthetic biology: new mechanisms, applications and tools for the future. Current opinion in chemical biology, 28, 47-56.

3. Takahashi, M.K., Hayes, C.A., Chappell, J., Sun, Z.Z., Murray, R.M., Noireaux, V. and Lucks, J.B. (2015) Characterizing and prototyping genetic networks with cell-free transcription-translation reactions. Methods, 86, 60-72.

4. Chappell, J., Takahashi, M.K. and Lucks, J.B. (2015) Creating small transcription activating RNAs. Nature chemical biology, 11, 214-220. † Highlighted in Nature Methods (doi:10.1038/nmeth.3354) and in commentary on Science Daily.

5. Takahashi, M.K., Chappell, J., Hayes, C.A., Sun, Z.Z., Kim, J., Singhal, V., Spring, K.J., Al-Khabouri, S., Fall, C.P., Noireaux, V., Murray, R.M. and Lucks, J.B. (2015) Rapidly characterizing the fast dynamics of RNA genetic circuitry with cell-free transcription-translation (TX-TL) systems. ACS synthetic biology, 4, 503-515. † Featured on the cover.

6. Chappell, J., Takahashi, M.K., Meyer, S., Loughrey, D., Watters, K.E. and Lucks, J.B. (2013) The centrality of RNA for engineering gene expression. Biotechnology journal, 8, 1379-1395.

7. Chappell, J., Jensen, K. and Freemont, P.S. (2013) Validation of an entirely in vitro approach for rapid prototyping of DNA regulatory elements for synthetic biology. Nucleic acids research, 41, 3471-3481. † Highlighted in commentary on Science Daily.

8. Chappell, J. and Freemont, P.S. (2013) In vivo and in vitro characterization of sigma70 constitutive promoters by real-time PCR and fluorescent measurements. Methods in molecular biology, 1073, 61-74.

9. Chappell, J. and Freemont, P.S. (2011). Synthetic biology – A new generation of biofilm biosensors. The Science and Applications of Synthetic and Systems Biology, 8, 159–178.

10. Gulati, S., Rouilly, V., Niu, X.,Chappell, J., Kitney, R.I., Edel, J.B., Freemont, P.S. and deMello, A.J. (2009) Opportunities for microfluidic technologies in synthetic biology. Journal of the Royal Society interface, 6, 493-506.