Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the College
Cassandra Hayne’s research focuses on the structure, function, and regulation of proteins that process certain types of short non-coding RNAs, such as tRNA. Most of the proteins she studies are essential for life and are also genetically linked to childhood neurodegenerative disease. She is interested in understanding the regulation and function of these proteins in healthy cells, and determining the molecular mechanisms by which genetic mutations in these proteins contribute to disease, using interdisciplinary approaches. Most recently, she has made important discoveries that have advanced our understanding of human tRNA splicing, in the context of a rare neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disease.
She has published in journals that include Biochemistry, Nature Communication, and WIRES RNA. In addition, her work in Nucleic Acids Research was designated as a “breakthrough” article, an honor given to only the top 1–2 percent of its published research. She recently received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) MOSAIC K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award.
Hayne earned a BA in biochemistry and a BS in biology from the University of Northern Iowa, and a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where she was recognized as its Fellow of the Year and a Duke Next Generation Leader.