the Stephen Floor lab

Understanding how the information contained in RNA sequences
controls gene expression in development and cancer

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About the lab

What We Do

Our cells are like machines. Genes in our DNA are the instructions to produce each part (proteins, RNA, and other molecules). Each part must be accurately produced in the right amount for cells to work properly. Mistakes in these processes cause many diseases, including cancer.

Messenger RNA sequences instruct the cell what protein part to make, and influence how much is made. Other RNA molecules also affect how cells work. Our lab studies how these processes work normally and how they are altered in human diseases.

Left: phase separation like oil and water of RNA binding proteins and RNA into round foci under cellular stress.

A Scientific Description

We study the many ways RNA influences human gene expression. How do mRNA sequences specify protein production levels? How do changes to the biophysics of RNA in cells influence gene expression, and what role(s) do RNA chaperones play? How are these processes changed in human diseases, and can the changes be corrected?

The Floor lab uses genome editing, functional genomics, biochemistry, and cell biology to explore these and other questions. Learn more about our projects or recent work.

We are members of the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Biophysics & Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs.

Thanks to the UCSF PBBR, the California Tobacco Releated Disease Research Program, and the NIH New Innovator program for supporting our work!


RNA chaperones

Remodeling of RNA by DEAD-box RNA chaperones
DEAD-box proteins use the energy of ATP hydrolysis to remodel RNA structures and RNA-protein complexes. We study how DEAD-box proteins influence gene expression through mechanical work.

Transcript isoform translation

Translational output of the human transcriptome
Most human genes give rise to multiple mRNAs through alternative mRNA processing. Each mRNA may include different coding sequences, regulatory sequences, or both. We measure how well different mRNAs are translated and use this information to control transgene expression.

RNA in disease

RNA in developmental disorders and cancer
DEAD-box proteins and other aspects of RNA biology are altered in numerous human diseases. We are studying how alteration of the DEAD-box protein DDX3 drives formation of the brain tumor medulloblastoma, and other RNA-related processes in disease.

RNA granules

Cell biophysics & phase separation of RNA
RNA molecules exist in a crowded cytoplasm. RNA and RNA-binding proteins partition into phase-separated RNA granules under some conditions. We investigate the role of RNA chaperones like DEAD-box proteins in this balance.

The lab

This is us

Lab members


Lorenzo Calviello


B.S., M.S. Molecular Biosciences: University of Pisa Ph.D.: MDC/BIMSB (Uwe Ohler lab)


Stephen N. Floor

Principal Investigator (CV)

B.S. Physics, Computer Science: Univ. of Kansas
Ph.D.: UCSF Biophysics (John Gross lab)
Postdoc: Berkeley (Doudna lab)


Yizhu Lin


B.S. Biology, University of Science and Technology of China
Ph.D.: Carnegie Mellon University Biological Sciences (Joel McManus lab)


Luisa Arake de Tacca

Graduate Student (Comparative Biochemistry)
(joint with UC Berkeley Cate Lab)

B.S., M.S. Biological Sciences and Toxinology: University of Brasilia


Malvika Tejura


BS: Berkeley Cell & Developmental Biology


Bao Thai


BS: Berkeley Cell & Developmental Biology


Srivats Venkataramanan


PhD: UCLA Molecular, Cell, and Dev. Biology
with Tracy Johnson
B. Tech & M. Tech: Indian Inst. of Tech. Madras, Biotechnology


Kevin Wilkins

Graduate Student (BMS)

BS: Notre Dame,
Biologial Science and Medieval Studies

Past lab members:

Niko Eng, 2018, BMS rotation student. Next: rotating
Jesslyn Park, 2018, Tetrad rotation student. Next: rotating
Katie Blackwell, 2018, SRTP summer student. Next: returned to UT Dallas for her junior year!
Yewande Alabi, 2018, BMS rotation student. Next: rotating
Skylar Johnson, 2018, Biotech Partners Intern. Next: returned to community college
Irene Chen, 2017, BMS rotation student. Next: joined Melanie Ott's lab

Recent publications

Pathogenic DDX3X mutations impair RNA metabolism and neurogenesis during fetal cortical development.

Lennox AL, Jiang, R, et al., Floor SN, Silver DL, and Sherr EH. (2018)

Widespread translational remodeling during human neuronal differentiation.

Blair JD, Hockemeyer D, Doudna JA, Bateup HS, Floor SN. (2017)

CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing In Human Cells Works Via The Fanconi Anemia Pathway.

Richardson, C.D., et al., Floor SN and Corn J. (2017)

For a complete list of publications please click here or grab an RSS feed

Contact us

We're always excited to talk with people interested in the lab! Applicants, journalists, educators - get in touch!

Postdoc applicants email Stephen with your CV and why you'd like to work in the lab.
For info about what it's like to be a postdoc at UCSF and associated policies, click here.

Rotation students: multiple projects available! Email Stephen to discuss.

Prospective graduate students please apply through one of the UCSF BMS or iPQB graduate programs or another UCSF graduate program.

The Floor lab welcomes people of any race, religion, national origin, gender, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and eligible age or disability.

513 Parnassus Ave
HSW 740
San Francisco, CA 94143


December 2018: Welcome to Yizhu Lin, our new postdoc joining from Joel McManus's lab!

October 2018: The lab is funded by the NIH New Innovator program!

September 2018: Welcome to rotation students Niko Eng (BMS) and Jesslyn Park (Tetrad)!

September 2018: Welcome back to Malvika Tejura, returning as a technician after graduating from Berkeley!

July 2018: Welcome to Yewande Alabi, who is rotating over the summer from the BMS graduate program!

July 2018: Welcome to Lorenzo Calviello, our new postdoc joining us from Uwe Ohler's lab!

July 2018: Welcome to Luisa Tacca, a visiting graduate student from Jamie Cate's lab at UC Berkeley!

June 2018: Welcome to Kevin Wilkins, our first graduate student, and Katie Blackwell for the summer from SRTP!

March 2018: Welcome to Srivats Venkataramanan, our first postdoc from Tracy Johnson's lab!

February 2018: The lab is funded by the TRDRP for medulloblastoma research!

January 2018: Welcome to Kevin Wilkins, a rotation student from BMS!

December 2017: The lab is funded by the UCSF PBBR!

December 2017: Welcome to Skylar Johnson, a Biotech Partners intern!

October 2017: Our collaborative paper with the Bateup and Hockemeyer labs is accepted at Cell Reports!

October 2017: Welcome to Irene Chen, our first rotation student from BMS!

August 2017: Tissue culture, PCR, other experiments are happening! Thanks to awesome neighbors for helping out.

July 2017: Bao and Malvika join in starting the lab!