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Colin Conine, PhD
Colin C. Conine
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics

Dr. Conine works to understand the functions of small RNAs in reproduction, epigenetic inheritance, and development. His research focuses on how small RNAs in sperm transmit epigenetic information to offspring, as well as their involvement in male fertility.



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Dr. Colin Conine’s research focuses on the functions of small RNAs in reproduction, inheritance, and development. He completed his PhD in the laboratory of Craig Mello at UMass Medical where he worked on the function of endogenous small RNA pathways regulating thermotolerant male fertility in C. elegans. Dr. Conine went on to complete his postdoctoral training in Oliver Rando’s lab, where he was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow.

During this time, he demonstrated that sperm transmitted small RNAs in mice are able to regulate embryonic gene expression and development in offspring. In the process, he found that small RNAs are shipped from the epididymis to maturing sperm via exosomes, establishing a novel soma-to-germline transfer of epigenetic information in mammals.

In January 2020, Colin joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (Department of Genetics) and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Division of Neonatology). His lab utilizes a combination of assisted-reproduction techniques paired with injection of RNAs or genetic ablation of small RNAs in the male germline, followed by single embryo genome-wide molecular techniques to determine the effect of sperm small RNAs on embryonic development and offspring phenotype.

Some of Dr. Conine's notable career achievements include:

  • Recipient of the 2014 Harold M. Weintraub Award for outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences
  • Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Foundation Fellow
  • First author publications in Cell, SciencePNAS, and Developmental Cell

Education and Training

BS, University of Rochester, Biochemistry, 2007

PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Molecular Biology and Genetics, 2014

Titles and Academic Titles

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics

Professional Awards

Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award for outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences, 2014

Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Foundation Fellowship, 2015-2017

Merck Fellow of the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, 2017-2018

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program recipient. Renewed in 2015 and 2018

Publication Highlights

Conine CC, Batista PJ, Gu W, Claycomb JM, Chavez DA, Shirayama M, Mello CC. The argonautes ALG-3 and ALG-4 are required for spermatogenesis-specific 26G-RNAs and thermotolerant sperm in Caenorhabditis elegans. PNAS. 2019 Jan; 107:3588-3593
Conine CC, Sun F, Song L, Rivera-Pérez JA, Rando OJ. Small RNAs gained during epididymal transit of sperm are essential for embryonic development in mice. Dev Cell. 2018 Jan; 46:470-480 e473
Sharma U, Conine CC*, Shea JM, Boskovic A, Derr AG, Bing XY, Belleannee C, Kucukural A, Serra RW, Sun F, Song L, Carone BR, Ricci EP, Li X, Fauquier L, Moore MJ, Sullivan R, Mello CC, Garber M, and Rando OJ. Biogenesis and function of tRNA fragments during sperm maturation and fertilization in mammals. Science. 2016 Jan; 351, 391-396. (* co-first author)
Conine CC, Moresco JJ, Gu W, Shirayama M, Conte D Jr, Yates JR III, Mello CC. Argonautes promote male fertility and provide a paternal memory of germline gene expression in C. elegans. Cell. 2013 Jan; 155:1532-1544