RNA research is one of the fastest growing fields in the life sciences, with implications for many diseases, our understanding of evolution, as well as biotechnological applications and has enormous economic potential.
In the past few years, numerous RNA research centers and institutes have been established in several European countries and at multiple sites across the USA. This activity reflects the growth in RNA research across the globe and the potential for far-reaching impact that RNA research carries. Research in the RNA field is a well-established strength of Canadian science, but the expertise is scattered at different institutions throughout the country. The value of RNA-based research within our province is directly substantiated through the strategic themes of three of the four provincial research and innovation corporations (Alberta Innovates). RNA based research and technologies (in particular synthetic biology and biomolecular engineering approaches) can make important contributions to both areas such as to the understanding of protein synthesis and folding as well as the development of new RNA and protein-based nanomaterials.
The Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute (ARRTI), established in December 2011, is the first RNA focused research centre in the province and uses mainly biophysical and engineering approaches in the study of structure and function of RNA based cellular systems. We have strong collaborators at the local government research institutions in these fields. The city of Lethbridge is also home to several governmental research institutions that apply RNA-based research technologies and rely on the U of L to provide adequately trained employees. ARRTI is dedicated to foster and facilitate RNA research and training excellence, to contribute to the multidisciplinary research and teaching community at the University of Lethbridge, its surrounding communities and beyond, ultimately facilitating transfer of leading-edge knowledge into the private sector as well as academia. In summary, ARRTI is timely and it fits well with the provincial research priorities and has the potential to harness the available expertise to contribute directly to each of these provincial research priorities.
ARRTI constitutes a coordinated team effort advancing RNA research initiatives in complement to the excellence in the research, teaching, and training programs that already exist at the University of Lethbridge.