molecular biology, nucleic acid research

our research

Our Research

The Aptamer Stream uses oligonucleotide chemistry, in vitro selection methodology, and biochemistry to develop novel therapeutics, diagnostics, and molecular sensors. The tool of choice for the development of these applications is an aptamer; an oligonucleotide binding species that is sometimes referred to as a molecular sticker.

We utilize methodology to identify aptamers against a variety of targets and develop their downstream applications. For example, aptamers targeting the precursors of disease states could offer inhibitory functions, thus serving as therapeutics to alleviate disease. Still, other aptamers against disease biomarkers could be used in the development of disease diagnostics. Some aptamers may even serve as gene regulators (such as synthetic riboswitches) or for targeted drug delivery (such as nanoparticle adjuncts).

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Aptamer Researchers

Our Strategy

We aim to develop a fundamental awareness and early experience in scientific research, specifically in the field of aptamer development, that is, oligonucleotide affinity reagent development. This involves an introduction to the terminology, technical concepts, and principles of our research.


Aptamer Research Techniques

  • enzyme catalyzed reactions (PCR)
  • reverse transcription
  • transcription
  • gel electrophoresis
  • oligonucleotide purification
  • micropipetting

We also focus on how to:

  • identify a creative, focused, and manageable question or topic related to our research goals
  • design a methodology for answering a research question, perusing the project, or small-scale “troubleshooting” tests
  • demonstrate understanding of the research implications and its translation to practical applications
  • develop teamwork, scientific communication, data analysis, and resilience skills



Our Impact

Aptamers are pieces of RNA or DNA that bind a variety of biological targets and are used by researchers around the world as therapeutics, sensors, drug delivery vehicles, and affinity reagents in diagnostic assays.  We seek to contribute to this growing field of aptamer research and aptamer tools by identifying aptamers, understanding the underlying mechanisms and parameters of aptamer selections, investigating aptamer specificity, and examining publication information to improve reproducibility.

Our Team

Profile image of Gwendolyn Stovall

Gwendolyn Stovall

  • Assistant Professor of Practice
  • Molecular Biosciences
  • College of Natural Sciences
  • Freshman Research Initiative

Leads the FRI Aptamer Stream, where students use biochemistry and molecular biology to develop tools made of RNA and DNA.

Profile image of Andrew Ellington

Andrew Ellington

  • Professor
  • Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Regents Chair in Molecular Biology
  • Wilson M. and Kathryn Fraser Research Professorship in Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biosciences


Course Credit
Research Outcomes