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Ronald Breaker is interested in understanding the functions of non-coding RNAs and DNAs, especially ribozymes and riboswitches – RNA molecules that catalyze chemical reactions or serve as chemical sensors and gene control elements. Breaker and his team use bioinformatics, genetics, and biochemical techniques to discover and study these functional RNAs, some of which might be “molecular relics” from long-extinct primitive life forms. The team aims to advance knowledge of nucleic acid biochemistry as they discover and create novel RNA gene control elements and explore the potential of these elements to serve as tools and targets for drug development applications.