Jack Szostak Laboratory

Web site: http://ccib.mgh.harvard.edu/szostaklab.htm

Simches Research Center
Seventh floor
185 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114
phone: 617-643-3300
fax: 617-643-3328

About Jack Szostak

Dr. Szostak is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

His current research interests are in the laboratory synthesis of self-replicating systems and the origin of life. He and his colleagues have developed in vitro selection as a tool for the isolation of rare functional RNA, DNA and protein molecules from large pools of random sequences. His laboratory has used in vitro selection and directed evolution to isolate and characterize numerous nucleic acid sequences with specific ligand binding and catalytic properties.

For this work, Dr. Szostak was awarded, along with Dr. Gerald Joyce, the 1994 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and the 1997 Sigrist Prize from the University of Bern. Dr. Szostak is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2000, Dr. Szostak was awarded the Medal of the Genetics Society of America. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Lasker Award in Chemistry.


The Szostak laboratory applies Darwinian principles to study macromolecules and membrane vesicles in order to understand the origins and early evolution of life.  We are interested in exploring a variety of nucleic acid analogs as candidates for replicating elements in a protocell that can undergo Darwinian evolution.

We also combine the power of mRNA display and ribosomal non-natural amino acid incorporation to evolve cyclic, highly modified peptides with novel functions. In addition, we are interested in the stability, dynamics, and permeability of membrane vesicles as a model system to construct the boundary of primitive cells.

We have recently begun to encapsulate nucleic acid polymers inside vesicles and to study their replication by diffusing in activated monomer building blocks.

Lab Members

Katarzyna Adamala Student
Anthony Bell, PhD Research Fellow
Raphael Bruckner Graduate Student
Xin Cai Undergraduate Student
Jingyang "Jesse" Chen, PhD Research Fellow
Quentin Dufton Graduate Student
Mark Elenko Graduate Student
Janet Iwasa, PhD Research Fellow
Jeanne Jackson Administrative Assistant
Mathangi Krishnamurthy, PhD Research Fellow
Chi-Wang Lin, PhD Research Fellow
Alexander Litovchick, MD, PhD Research Fellow
Alonso Ricardo, PhD Research Fellow
Mui Sam, PhD Research Fellow
Yollete Guillén Schlippe, PhD Research Fellow
Jason Schrum, PhD Graduate Student
Burckhard Seelig, PhD Research Fellow
Lele Sun, PhD Research Fellow
Pamela Svec Laboratory Manager
Silvia Tobé Graduate Student
Ching-Hsuan Tsai, PhD Research Fellow
Na Zhang, PhD Research Fellow
Ting Zhu Graduate Student
Keyong Zou, PhD Research Fellow

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