Robert Spitale, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is among 22 individuals nationwide named 2017 Pew scholars in the biomedical sciences, one of the highest honors for early-career researchers. Spitale will receive $240,000 over the next four years from the Pew Charitable Trusts to develop powerful new tools for visualizing the production, localization and structure of RNA molecules within different living cell types. “RNAs are becoming increasingly recognized for their role in regulating a host of critical cell functions — from gene activation and protein production to the molecular events that govern cell division,” Spitale said. “How this versatile molecule carries out such diverse functions is an active area of investigation. Our goal, with support from Pew, is to develop novel tools and approaches that permit analysis of RNA structure and function inside living systems. We will use our tools to answer long-standing questions about the mechanistic basis of RNA function. Successful completion of our research is sure to reveal many new ways RNA molecules contribute to normal physiology and disease.” Spitale earned a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Rochester and joined the UCI faculty in 2014.