Tirrell Group

Jeffrey Vieregg, PhD

  • Senior Research Scientist

  • Contact: jvieregg@uchicago.edu
  • Office Location:
    5640 South Ellis Avenue, Eckhardt Research Laboratory 108, Chicago, IL 60637

Jeff Vieregg received his BS in physics with electrical engineering and a minor in chemistry from MIT. His undergraduate research focused on high-frequency electron devices for solid-state NMR signal enhancement.

Jeff obtained a PhD in physics from Berkeley with Professors Ignacio Tinoco, Jr. and Carlos Bustamante. His thesis research centered on single-molecule studies of RNA folding using optical trapping. Manipulating individual RNA molecules with mechanical force provides new windows into the structure and dynamics of biomolecules.

Prior to joining PME, Jeff worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the Bioengineering Department at Caltech, under the supervision of Professor Niles Pierce. He developed nanoscale biosensors and actuators using conformation-changing nucleic acids and programmable hybridization.

Areas of research expertise:

  • Nucleic acid folding and function
  • Biological phase separations
  • Nanoparticle engineering
  • Gene synthesis

Nucleic acids are fascinating molecules, both in terms of their physical properties and their biological function. Over millions of years, DNA and RNA have evolved to perform myriad essential functions in the cell, from information storage to structural scaffolding to catalysis of chemical reactions. In particular, recent years have seen an explosion in our appreciation of RNA's many roles in gene regulation. We are only in the early stages of learning how these vital molecules interact to maintain life, and how we can intervene when things go awry. Nucleic acids' programmable self-assembly properties and biocompatibility also make them powerful platforms for engineering structures, sensors, and therapeutics at the nanoscale.

My research interests are at the intersection of nucleic acid biophysics, biochemistry, and bioengineering. Developing better nucleic acid nanodevices allows us to probe cellular processes with unprecedented levels of detail and obtain information not accessible through other techniques. In turn, learning more about nucleic acids' behavior in the natural environment allows us to more precisely engineer their behavior in the lab. At Chicago, I am working with the Tirrell group to deliver RNA therapeutics using engineered artificial micelles, and with the Center for the Physics of Evolving Systems to develop high-throughput gene synthesis techniques and methods to create large sets of genotype-phenotype measurements.

Polyelectrolyte complexation of oligonucleotides by charged hydrophobic–neutral hydrophilic block copolymers

Marras, A. E., Vieregg, J. R., Ting, J. M., Rubien, J. D., Tirrell, M. V.. Polyelectrolyte complexation of oligonucleotides by charged hydrophobic–neutral hydrophilic block co. Polymers. 2019. Vol. 11, Pg. 83.

Phase Control of Oligonucleotide-Peptide Complexes

Jeffrey R. Vieregg, Michael Lueckheide, Amanda B. Marciel, Lorraine Leon§, Alex J. Bologna†, Josean Reyes Rivera∥, and Matthew V. Tirrell*. Phase Control of Oligonucleotide-Peptide Complexes. J. Am. Chem. Soc.. 2018. Vol. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b03567.

Inhibiting sterilization-induced oxidation of large molecule therapeutics packaged in plastic parenteral vials

J.R. Vieregg, S.J. Martin, A.P. Breeland, C.M. Weikart, and M.V. Tirrell. Inhibiting sterilization-induced oxidation of large molecule therapeutics packaged in plastic parent. PDA J. Pharm. Sci. Tech.. 2017. Vol. 72, Pg. 35-43.

Structure-property relationships of oligonucleotide polyelectrolyte complex micelles

M. Lueckheide], J.R. Vieregg, A.J. Bologna, and M.V. Tirrell. Structure-property relationships of oligonucleotide polyelectrolyte complex micelles. Nano Letters .