Ellington Receives Research Foundation’s STAR Award

Posted July 15, 2019

On July 12, 2019, Dr. Ellington received the Research Corporation for Science Advancement's (RCSA) STAR award for his work on entrepreneurial education. In partnership with Dr. Sarah Eichhorn and the Texas Institute for Discovery Education, Dr. Ellington has helped to establish the Inventors' Program, where students can take on translational problems and learn business-ready skills. As an example, Simren Lakhotia, an undergraduate researcher in the program, has worked on the development of a portable field diagnostic for Rocky Mountain spotted fever that would allow hikers to test individual ticks for the disease. Dr. Ellington was originally a Cottrell Scholar, an award that allowed teaching and research to be melded, and has since maintained a long association with the Research Foundation, an organization devoted to advancing science education.

Read more about the RCSA’s STAR award

A Possible Bridge Between the Modern Protein-Based world and a hypothetical “RNA World”

Posted July 11, 2019

On July 11, 2019, Dr. Ellington delivered a short talk and poster at the 19th Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) Conference, detailing progress by an international team on "Rebuilding and reimagining the last common ancestor, a ribo-organism." In this bold project, Dr. Ellington is collaborating with Dr. Hiro Suga (University of Tokyo), Dr. Michael Jewett (Northwestern University), and Dr. Philippe Marliere (Université Evry) on replacing the machinery responsible for enforcing the genetic code, protein tRNA synthetases, with ribozymes that can perform similar tasks. In doing so, the team hopes to return living systems to an earlier state — a transitional organism that bridged between a hypothetical "RNA world" where ribozymes ruled and the modern protein-based world. In addition, given the facility with which ribozymes can be reprogrammed, the engineering of such an organism would offer many opportunities for changing and expanding the genetic code, leading to many possible biotechnology applications.

Read more about the 19th HFSP Conference here

Two UT Scientists Helping to Detect ‘Life As We Don’t Know It’

Posted June 26, 2019 from an article in UT News

Two University of Texas at Austin faculty members have joined an interdisciplinary scientific team that is working with NASA to research new approaches to detecting extraterrestrial life. The UT Austin team will receive more than $722,000 over five years for the NASA project, which aims to develop methods to detect life on other worlds that might look nothing like life on Earth.

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February 22, 2019: DNA Gets a New — and Bigger — Genetic Alphabet. New York Times

DNA is spelled out with four letters, or bases. Researchers have now built a system with eight. It may hold clues to the potential for life elsewhere in the universe and could also expand our capacity to store digital data on Earth. (Read the full news article or read the paper!)


February 22, 2019: Anna’s project is front page of Nature Chemistry.

The biological function of many proteins requires their assembly into a specific multi-protein structure. Designing artificial protein assemblies is difficult, however, and often relies on the precise redesign of protein–protein interfaces. Now, David W. Taylor, Andrew D. Ellington and colleagues have shown that supercharging green fluorescent protein enables variants of alternating net charge to assemble into a variety of well-defined architectures. The front cover shows a symmetrical 16-mer structure composed of two stacked rings of octamers.

January 18, 2019: A project which the Ellington laboratory is working on is on the news. The UT Austin chemistry team has received a $722,000 NASA grant to establish new methods that show the proof of life outside the Earth.

University of Texas' Spring Semester starts next week and some students will be working this year on a project- that's "out of this world."

August 30, 2018: Simple test detects disease-carrying mosquitoes, presence of biopesticide. Sanchitas’ research on Zika is on Science Daily

September 7, 2016: Andre's latest paper on evolving orthogonal suppressor tRNAs for modified amino acid incorporation is now available to read.

July 18 - 21, 2016: Several members of the lab attended SEED 2016 in Chicago, where Andy spoke about the functional incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteomes.

June 24, 2016: Research by Jared, Jimmy, and Raghav on the development of a reverse transcriptase capable of proofreading is featured in this week's issue of Science.

Summer 2016: Eric Verbeke joins the lab as a summer rotation student. Welcome Eric!

May 25, 2016: Bo's paper on anti-ricin antibody discovery through repertoire analysis and yeast surface display is out.

May 23, 2016: The new lab website is under construction.

April 29, 2016: Jared successfully defends his dissertation.

March 31, 2016: A new paper by Cheulhee on expanding oligonucleotide terminal hairpin formation and self-priming (THSP) by incorporating phosphorothioates is now available.

March 23, 2016: Sherry successfully defends her dissertation.