Recent work by Jesse Zalatan featured on the cover of Cell

Assistant Professor Jesse Zalatan and co-workers at the UCSF have developed a method to encode complex, synthetic transcriptional regulatory programs using the CRISPR-Cas system. Natural biological systems can switch between different functional or developmental states depending on the particular set of genes being expressed, and the ability to synthetically control gene expression has important implications as both a research tool and as a means to engineer novel cell-based therapeutics and devices.

Zalatan and coworkers designed CRISPR-Cas RNA scaffold molecules that specify both a DNA target and the function to execute at the target, so that sets of RNA scaffolds can be used to generate a synthetic, multigene transcriptional program in eukaryotic cells in which some genes are activated and others are repressed. These types of programs can be used to reprogram complex reaction networks in biological systems, such as metabolic pathways or signaling cascades.

For more information about Professor Zalatan and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Jesse Zalatan to join faculty

Zalatan_picWe are delighted to announce that Dr. Jesse Zalatan will be joining the Department as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Zalatan conducted his undergraduate work at Harvard University, performing research with Professor Stephen Harrison. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry with Professor Daniel Herschlag at Stanford University, where he studied enzyme-catalyzed phosphoryl transfer reactions. He is presently a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Wendell Lim at the University of California at San Francisco, where he has studied mechanisms for controlling specificity in cell signaling networks. He has received a Hertz Foundation graduate fellowship, a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, and a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface for his research.

Dr. Zalatan will launch his program at the University of Washington in September 2014. His work will focus on the molecular mechanisms that allow living cells to efficiently process, integrate, and coordinate signals. He will use approaches ranging from mechanistic enzymology to synthetic biology to explore the physical organizing principles of biological networks.

For more information, please visit his faculty page or contact him directly via email at