About the Lab

The research laboratory of Jim Maher, Ph.D., studies the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. Dr. Maher's research team works to understand how the locally stiff DNA molecule is bent and looped by proteins, and how this bending is involved in the control of gene expression. The lab's studies involve bacterial, yeast and mammalian proteins, as well as artificial proteins engineered to test basic principles.

The lab also studies how unnatural DNA and RNA molecules can be selected from random libraries for the ability to tightly bind and inhibit proteins in living cells. This work seeks to develop new approaches to artificial gene regulation in cancer and inflammatory diseases. Example applications include the inhibition of specific transcription factors and the stimulation of remyelination in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

The Maher Lab also works to understand the biochemistry of cancers such as paraganglioma and glioblastoma where aberrant metabolism may play a key role in tumor growth and therapy.

Research interests

  • Understanding DNA bending and looping by proteins
  • Exploring small folded RNAs and DNAs as artificial tools for regenerative medicine and gene regulation
  • Understanding the biochemistry of metabolite imbalance in cancer


The Maher Lab works closely with the Mayo Clinic Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.