I am a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah, and my laboratory is located at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. My postdoctoral studies were performed in Dr. David Baltimore’s laboratory at the California Institute of Technology where I began working in the area of microRNAs following my graduate training in Immunology at UCLA. My research program has since been focused on studying the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in regulating both physiological and pathological immune cell functions in mammals, with an emphasis on inflammation and cancer.
The lab is currently focused on the following:
Understanding the communication between the mammalian host (including dendritic cells (DCs) and intestinal epithelial cells) and gut microbiota via extracellular vesicles and their RNA cargo during inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).
Exploring the role of miRNAs in coordinating antitumor and immunotherapeutic responses to gastrointestinal (GI) and blood cancers.
The development and mechanistic study of mRNA vaccines to induce immunity against GI and blood cancers.
Defining the interplay between miRNAs and cellular metabolism during age-related inflammation (GI and muscle) and cancer (GI).
Collectively, my work as a trainee and as an independent principal investigator has resulted in the publication of over 100 high impact primary research manuscripts and review articles, and has significantly contributed to our current understanding of the importance of microRNAs during the development, function and transformation of hematopoietic cells. Furthermore, I also serve in multiple leadership roles at the University of Utah that include Co-Director of the Immunology, Inflammation and Infectious Disease (3i) Initiative, Associate Chief of the Microbiology and Immunology Division, and Program Co-Director of the Neuroimmunology Training Grant. Of note, I have mentored 14 graduate students (4 MD/PhD students) and 6 postdoctoral scholars, many of whom have advanced to exciting positions in academia and industry.
Ryan M. O'Connell, PhD
Department of Pathology
Division of Microbiology and Immunology
2000 Circle of Hope, Room: Rm 5245
Salt Lake City, UT 84112