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Dr Rory Johnson


Rory Johnson

Associate Professor
School of Biology and Environmental Science
University College Dublin, School of Biology and Environmental Science


My goal is to understand human disease by studying our genome, and particularly its most exotic inhabitants, the enigmatic yet numerous genes called "long noncoding RNAs" (lncRNAs). Our lab hunts for cancer-promoting lncRNAs by combining CRISPR-Cas9, bioinformatics, molecular biology and in vitro/in vivo cellular models. We hope to eventually develop effective treatments that target lncRNAs, while simultaneously gaining fundamental insights into biology. I received my PhD (2007) thanks to a Wellcome Trust scholarship at the University of Leeds, with a thesis on gene expression regulation in the nervous system. For postdoctoral work, I moved to the Genome Institute of Singapore, where I applied next generation sequencing methods to mapping gene regulatory networks in embryonic stem cells. With a Ramon y Cajal fellowship in Roderic Guigo's lab at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (Barcelona), I helped to create maps of lncRNA genes with the GENCODE consortium. In 2016 I became junior Group Leader with the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research in RNA & Disease, where I established the laboratory for Genomics of Long noncoding RNAs in Disease (GOLD Lab). We parcipated in the International Cancer Genome Consortium's "PanCancer Analysis of Whole Genomes" (PCAWG) project, culminating in a landmark map of cancer driver mutations in the human genome (2020). In December 2019 GOLD Lab relocated to UCD thanks to a Future Research Leaders grant from the SFI, where we continue the quest to understand the noncoding genome in cancer.


  • Postdoctoral Researcher
    Genome Institute of Singapore, Stem Cell and Developmental Biology, Singapore1 Jan 2007 - 1 Sep 2009
  • Staff Scientist
    Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Bioinformatics and Genomics, Spain1 Feb 2010 - 31 Oct 2016
  • Ramon y Cajal Fellow
    Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Spain1 Jan 2012 - 31 Oct 2016
  • Junior Group Leader
    National Centre for Competence in Research "RNA & Disease", Switzerland1 Nov 2016 - 31 Dec 2020
  • Assistant Professor (with Habilitation)
    University Hospital of Bern, Medical Oncology, Switzerland1 Nov 2016 - 31 Dec 2020
  • Associate Professor
    University College Dublin, School of Biology and Environmental Science, Ireland1 Dec 2019


  • MSc
    University of London
  • PhD
    University of Leeds