ASBMB Young Investigator Award

Jaffrey called ‘a tremendously gifted thinker’
for having accomplished so much so quickly

Sammy R. Jaffrey

It’s a great honor to be included in the company of the previous recipients ASBMB Young Investigator Award. This award would not have been possible without the remarkable students and fellows who have been members of my laboratory.


Samie R. Jaffrey of Weill Medical College of Cornell University has been awarded the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 2014 Young Investigator Award for his advancements in RNA technology and mRNA regulation. The award seeks to recognize outstanding research done in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology by scientists with fewer than 15 years of postdoctoral experience.
The Jaffrey lab researches how RNA regulation affects neuronal growth and development – and especially how novel functions of RNA are involved in intracellular signaling pathways needed for growth and development.
One point of interest is how RNA localization to specific regions of a cell may influence the pattern of protein expression; however, there previously were no simple methods available to visualize RNA in live cells. Jaffrey’s lab developed fluorescent-tagged RNA molecules to determine the location of RNA within live cells. These RNA-fluorophore complexes are composed of an RNA aptamer that binds to a target ligand and an RNA aptamer that binds and activates a fluorophore.
These complexes could aid in the study of splicing, RNA editing and degradation, as well as visualization of metabolite levels and interactions that cannot be detected by Förster Resonance Energy Transfer and the detection of signaling molecules within cells. Through the use of these fluorescent-tagged RNA molecules, Jaffrey’s lab has identified novel RNA mechanisms that may control protein expression.
The recent focus of his lab has been the role of adenosine methylation in mRNA regulation and modification using a novel sequencing approach that targets N6-methyl adenosine residues to target their presence in the transcriptome.
“I know of few individuals who combine Samie’s level of understanding of chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry and have been able to leverage deep understanding in all of these areas to transform our understanding of RNA biology,” says Rajiv R. Ratan of Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Burke Medical Research Institute. “Samie is a tremendously gifted thinker who has accomplished as much in the first 10 years of his laboratory’s existence as many of us endeavor to achieve in a lifetime."
Jaffrey earned his B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and then his Ph.D. in neuroscience and M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1999 in the lab of Solomon H. Snyder. Jaffrey is currently a tenured professor of pharmacology at Weill Medical College in New York City.
Jaffrey will receive his award at the 2014 ASBMB annual meeting in San Diego. The presentation will take place at 9:05 a.m. April 29 in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.

Anna ShipmanAnna Shipman ( received her B.S. in biology–biotechnology from Missouri Western State University and is a Ph.D. student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.