Roger Wartell

Roger Wartell

Professor Emeritus

Roger Wartell received his B.S. degree in Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1966. In 1971, he received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Rochester where he worked in the group of Elliot Montroll on the DNA helix-coil transition. From 1971-1973 he was a NIH postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Robert Wells at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978-79, and Visiting Scholar at National Institutes of Health-Bethesda from 1987-88. 

Wartell joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 1974. Roger received a NIH Career Development Award in 1979 and served as Associate Chair in School of Physics from 1987-88, and Chair of the School of Biology from 1990-2004. He is a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Georgia Tech. His current research is focused on protein-RNA interactions relating to sRNA regulation in bacteria, and the assembly and reactions of small RNAs in ice.


Office Location:
Petit Biotechnology Building, Office 1307


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    Georgia Institute of Technology

    School of Biological Sciences
    Research Focus Areas:
  • Molecular Evolution
  • Additional Research:

    Current research is directed at understanding the origin and evolution of RNA assemblies and activities that gave rise to RNA-based genetic and metabolic systems, and the interaction of a bacterial RNA-binding protein Hfq that is crucial for the regulation of gene expression by short regulatory RNAs. The first research area is examining the assembly and activities of RNAunder plausible early earth conditions ( e.g. anoxic environment, freeze-thaw cycles of aqueous solutions). We have shown that Fe2+can replace Mg2+and enhance ribozyme function under anoxic conditions. Fe2+was abundant on early earth and may have enhanced RNA activities in an anoxic environments. Freeze-thaw cycles can also promote RNA assembly under conditions where degradation is minimized. The second area of research is investigating the mechanism of the Hfq protein. Hfq is a bacterial RNA-binding protein that facilitates the hybridization of short non-coding regulatory RNAs (sRNA)to their target regions on specific mRNAs. sRNAs are important elements in the regulation of gene expression for bacteria.Hfq is highly conserved among bacterial phyla and has been shown to be a virulence factor in several bacterial species. The interactions of wild type and mutant Hfq proteins with various RNAs are examined using biochemical/ biophysical methods such as the electrophoresis mobility shift assay, fluorescence spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry.

    Research Affiliations: Center for Nanobiology of the Macromolecular Assembly Disorders - NanoMAD

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