Peter Unrau



  • B.Sc., McMaster University
  • Ph.D., M.I.T. 


Peter Unrau’s education includes a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics from McMaster University (1992) and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from MIT (1996). Following his graduation from MIT, Peter became interested in the emerging field of RNA catalysis and decided to join David Bartel’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. His work there, which includes isolating the first RNA nucleotide synthase ribozyme, has been cited numerous times in the literature as a highly significant contribution to the RNA catalysis field.

In 2001, Peter joined the faculty at Simon Fraser University where, with the help of his bright and energetic lab members, he runs an active research program in the area of RNA catalysis. He is currently Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University, a Michael Smith Foundation Senior Scholar, and a member of the Faculty of 1000.

Selected Publications: 

  • Kristen Kong, Sunny Jeng, Batool Rayyan, Peter Unrau. RNA Peach and Mango: orthogonal two-color fluorogenic aptamers distinguish nearly identical ligands. RNA, 2021.
  • Razvan Cojocaru and Peter Unrau, Processive RNA polymerization and promoter recognition in an RNA World. Science, 2021.
  • Alexis Autour, Sunny C. Y. Jeng, Adam D. Cawte, Amir Abdolahzadeh, Angela Galli, Shanker S.S. Panchapakesan, David Rueda, Michael Ryckelynck Peter J. Unrau. Fluorogenic RNA Mango aptamers for imaging small non-coding RNAs in mammalian cells. Nature Communications, 2018.
  • Robert J Trachman III, Natalia ADemeshkina, Matthew W L Lau, Shanker Shyam SPanchapakesan,  Sunny C Y Jeng, Peter J Unrau & Adrian RFerré-D’Amaré*. Structural basis for high-affinity fluorophore binding and activation by RNA Mango, Nature Chemical Biology, 2017.

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Future courses may be subject to change.