DF/HCC New Member

Please welcome Dr. Flynn who joined DF/HCC last year, and is a member of the Cancer Cell Biology Program.



My name is Ryan Flynn, and I am a new assistant professor at Boston Children’s Hospital. And I recently joined the Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center, specifically in the Cancer Cell Biology program.

In terms of my research background and interests, I have a deep and I guess long-standing interest in RNA biology. So starting from an undergrad at MIT I worked in RNA and small noncoding RNAs. I did my PhD and MD at Stanford, and also studied non-coding RNA biology, in particular, the interface between RNA and proteins, and thinking about developing novel methods to study those. 

Most recently, I was a post doc also at Stanford, where I learned about glycobiology and we made a sort of surprising discovery that RNAs get glycosylated in particular, when they get these N-glycans appended to them, they get presented in the cell surface. 

And so, the main focus of my lab now here at Children’s and in particular in the context of Dana-Farber’s focus is to think about what are these RNAs doing in human biology and how could they be misregulated or contributing to different disease states, in particular cancer states.

I think one of the reasons why I am super excited about becoming a member of the DF/HCC is that you know we’re really focused on developing molecular tools and thinking about the chemical biology of these, what we are calling glycoRNAs. But we lack personally a lot of the sort of clinical connection and model systems to study these biological phenomena. And so, one of the things that my lab is really interested in doing is collaborating with other scientists and other clinicians to think through and investigate how their system might be either differentially expressing or in otherwise changing the glycoRNA biology. 

And I think it is potentially very interesting in the context of cancer, again because what we are finding is that the glycol RNAs are, again on the cell surface and so that kind of positions them to be signals and also sort of interface between for example, tissues and the immune system and this is a sort of physical paradigm, and potential paradigm that’s being thought about more in the cancer space. And so, we are really interested to think with people about how glycoRNAs could sort of participate in those interactions.