We are interested in the specificity of translation of the genetic code, focusing on the questions of how tRNAs are synthesized, matured, modified, aminoacylated, and function on the ribosome.

The tRNA molecules are essential for the specificity of decoding, which is the key determinant in the speed and quality of cell growth. Elevated levels of tRNAs can lead to cancer, while deficiency in tRNAs can lead to cell toxicity.

Our research provides the basis to gain biochemical, structural, and bioinformatic insights into tRNAs in evolution. These insights are important for understanding the origins of the genetic code and for developing new strategies for drug targeting against diseases arising from errors of tRNA functions.


We have developed a variety of methods, including biochemical, structural, kinetic, and genetic approaches. We focus on one representative enzyme in each case and build a framework of information by examining the enzyme in the larger biological context. Because tRNAs are ancient and enzymes that interact and recognize tRNAs are also ancient, we have a large database to search for related and homologous enzymes in evolution. The tRNA-interacting network is broad and include enzymes and proteins that are in pathways unrelated to protein synthesis. Some of our work published in various journals is mentioned in our publications page.

October 24, 2015

Postdoctoral or Research Assistant Positions for Mitochondria Research

Postdoctoral or Research Assistant positions are available in the lab of Dr. Ya-Ming Hou at Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College. We study molecular and cellular mechanisms that protect against neurodegeneration associated with mitochondrial diseases. Current topics include systematic analysis of RNA biosynthesis, maturation, epigenetic methylation, and translational activity in mitochondria and in disease.

For more information, please see the following publications and websites.
Nature Communications, 6, 7226, 2015
Methods in Enzymology 560, 91-116, 2015
Nature 510, 507-511, 2014
Chem & Biol (Cell Press) 21, 1351-1360, 2014
Nature Commun 2, 329, 2011
Nat Chem Biol 6, 795-796, 2010
Methods in Enzymology 469, 69-93, 2009
Nature Structural and Mol Biol 15, 507-514, 2008

Candidates with an expected or recently earned Ph.D. and a strong record of research productivity are encouraged to apply. Experience in RNA-seq, high-throughput data analysis, fluorescence microscopy, mammalian cell culture, molecular biology, protein enzymology, nucleic acid research, and mitochondrial research is preferred.

Please send a cover letter, a CV, and names/contact information of three references to:

Ya-Ming Hou, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Thomas Jefferson University
Sidney Kimmel Medical College
233 South 10th Street, BLSB 220
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Email: ya-ming.hou@jefferson.edu