Daniel O’Reilly, PhD


Daniel O’Reilly Ph.D. is currently a Post-Doctoral Associate at Khvorova Lab, RNA Therapeutics Institute,University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA. Previously a Ph.D. student in Prof. Masad Damha’s lab at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Dan earned his MSc in Chemistry from the University of Southampton, UK. It was there that he was first introduced to Nucleic Acid Chemistry in the laboratory of Prof. Jon Watts, working on the synthesis of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) monomers. Currently, his Ph.D. research focuses on utilizing chemical modifications to enhance the therapeutic effects of oligonucleotides by understanding nucleic acid structure. A research highlight has been probing the structural and chemical requirements for modification of the crRNA, in the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Creating a set of guidelines for chemical modification can lead to the development of novel highly modified crRNA for many applications. This work was performed in collaboration with Keith Gagnon at Southern Illinois University. During his PhD he spent two months in the laboratory of Dr. David Corey at University of Texas Southwestern, where he investigated the upregulation of Frataxin protein using antisense oligonucleotides.

Dan’s fascination with the field started at an early age when a family member was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, and even more so when he himself discovered that he carried the disease gene. He now volunteers for the Huntington’s Disease Association (UK) research panel, which advises on research grant proposals. Dan is excited to serve as a trainee representative member and to contribute to the OTS community as a whole.