Ronald R Breaker

Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Departments & Organizations

Cancer Center, Yale: Developmental Therapeutics

Center for RNA Science and Medicine, Yale

Developmental Therapeutics

NHLBI Proteomics

RNA Biology

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology: RNA Catalysis and Ribonucleoprotein Machines | Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics and Development: Molecular and Chemical Biology; Nucleic Acids

Office of Cooperative Research


Dr. Breaker is the Chair and Henry Ford II Professor of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, is jointly appointed as a professor in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and is an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His graduate studies with Dr. Peter Gilham at Purdue University focused on the synthesis of RNA and the catalytic properties of nucleic acids. As a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Gerald Joyce at The Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Breaker pioneered a variety of in vitro evolution strategies to isolate novel RNA enzymes and was the first to discover catalytic DNAs or “deoxyribozymes” using this technology. Since establishing his laboratory at Yale in 1995, Dr. Breaker has continued to conduct research on the advanced functions of nucleic acids, including ribozyme reaction mechanisms, molecular switch technology, next-generation biosensors, and catalytic DNA engineering. In addition, his laboratory has established the first proofs that metabolites are directly bound by messenger RNA elements called riboswitches. Dr. Breaker’s research findings have been published in more than 220 scientific papers, book chapters, and patent applications, and his research has been funded by grants from the NIH, NSF, DARPA, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and from several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Hellman Family Trust. In recognition of his research accomplishments at Yale, Dr. Breaker received the Arthur Greer Memorial Prize (1997), the Eli Lilly Award in Microbiology (2005) and the Molecular Biology Award from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2006). Dr. Breaker has cofounded two biotechnology companies and is a scientific advisor for industry and for various government agencies. He serves on the editorial board for the scientific journals RNA Biology, RNA, Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA, and Cell Chemical Biology.

Education & Training

Postdoctoral Fellow The Scripps Research Institute
Ph.D. Purdue University
B.S. University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Honors & Recognition

  • Chan LectureUC-Berkeley (2016)

  • ASBMB-Merck AwardAmerican Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2016)

  • Distinguished Alumni AwardPurdue University (2014)

  • Leslie Orgel Memorial LectureSalk Institute (2013)

  • MemberUS National Academy of Sciences (2013)

  • Rolf Sammet ProfessorshipSanofi-Aventis (2012)

  • Arun Guthikonda Memorial AwardColumbia University (2007)

  • Molecular Biology AwardU.S. National Academy of Sciences (2006)

  • Eli Lilly AwardAmerican Society for Microbiology (2005)

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