Frank Rigo, PhD


In 2002, Dr. Rigo completed his undergraduate studies in molecular biology and biochemistry at Marquette University. From 2002-08, he earned his Ph.D. at UCLA in the Biochemistry Department under Harold Martinson. There, Dr. Rigo dissected the mechanistic basis for how splicing and polyadenylation are interconnected with transcription. This was possible because Dr. Rigo developed, for the first time, an in vitro system where pre-mRNA processing and transcription occurred at the same time and were functionally interconnected. After earning his Ph.D. in 2008, Dr. Rigo pursued a post-doc in industry at Ionis Pharmaceuticals under Frank Bennett.

During Dr. Rigo’s two-year post-doc, he focused on developing a therapy for spinal muscular atrophy based on ASO-mediated splicing correction of SMN2. The ASO that he helped develop was recently approved by the US FDA. In 2010, Dr. Rigo continued his career at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Early on, Dr. Rigo lead the efforts to advance ASO technology by identifying therapeutic targets amenable to ASO-mediated splicing modulation. He also identified alternative mechanisms that could be exploited by ASOs.

Now Dr. Rigo leads the ALS program in the neuroscience group and the efforts to identify lncRNAs as therapeutic targets. To date, Dr. Rigo has successfully published over 50 articles in the fields of splicing, lncRNAs, ASO mechanisms, and neuroscience.