Faculty Directory
RNA Triple Helix - https://www.rcsb.org/structure/6svs


Clinical Associate Professor of Chemistry


Yeshiva College

office: Belfer Hall 1608

lab: Belfer Hall 1618

Ph.D. Utah State University, UT - Biophysical-Organic Chemistry
B. Eng. University "Politehnica" of Bucharest, Romania- Macromolecular Compounds


Irina Catrina received a Physical-Organic Chemistry Ph.D. degree from Utah State University, UT, and a Chemical Engineering degree from the "Politehnica" University of Bucharest, Romania. At USU, in Alvan Hengge's laboratory, she studied the use of phosphorothioates as models for deciphering the mechanism and transition state structure of phosphoryl transfer reactions. She then studied nucleic acid folding and developed a microarray to improve prediction of RNA secondary structure in Douglas Turner's laboratory at the University of Rochester, NY. From Rochester, she moved to Worcester, MA, where she studied viral RNA replication in Maria Zapp's laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In Diana Bratu's lab at Hunter College of CUNY, NY she used RNA visualization techniques to study endogenous and viral RNA trafficking in live fruit fly egg chambers. Her current research focuses on the development of in vitro assays to facilitate fast and easy design of efficient probes that allow the study of RNA-RNA and RNA-protein interactions that are essential for organism development.


  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • RNA Structure and Folding
  • Regulatory RNAs
  • Advanced Light Microscopy




August 25th, 2023 - TFOFinder article published in PLOS Computational Biology

August 8th, 2023 - Faculty Research Award in collaboration with Dr. Rana Khan

August 3rd, 2023 - Katz School Faculty Research Award in collaboration with Dr. Rana Khan

January 27th, 2023 - Cup manuscript uploaded on bioRxiv - in collaboration with the Bratu Lab at Hunter College 

                                    August 8th, 2023 update: article published in RNA Biology journal

April 26th, 2023 - TFOFinder Manuscript uploaded on bioRxiv


YU Research Group:

Yedidya Blau

Ariel Gordin

Jordan Levovitz

Doron Sedaghat

Mark Gotesman - RNA folding in collaboration with the Youshan Zhang Lab


Former Group Members:

Haider Zainuddin Ali - HIV-1 Rev mRNA sequence conservation analysis

Yonatan Sragow - TFO assays

Joshua (Shuie) Berger - TFO assays

Elazar Mermelstein - TFO assays

Daniel Goldstein - TFO assays

Omer Birman - RNA tissue-specific expression

Brandon Khankhanian - TFO thermodynamics analysis

Brian Bendel - TFO probe design

Atara Neugroschl - probe design software development

Daniel (Doni) Schanzer - new probes for RNA FISH

Aaron Singer - translation inhibition using short probes

Leeba Sullivan - small molecule RNA docking


IC Research Lab


















2021 Yeshiva College Lillian F. and William L. Silber Professor of the Year Award - selected by the 2021 Senior Class

Complete List of Published Work in My Bibliography:


  1. Neugroschl, A., and Catrina, I.E. (2023)TFOFinder: A Python program for identifying purine-rich double-stranded stretches in the predicted secondary structure(s) of RNA targets” PLoS Comput Biol 19(8): e1011418.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1011418
  2. Bayer, L.V. Milano, S., Formel, S.K, Kaur, H., Ravichandran, S., Cambeiro, J.A., Slinko, L., Catrina, I.E. and Bratu, D.P. (2023) “Cup is essential for oskar mRNA translational repression during early Drosophila oogenesis” RNA Biology, 20:1, 573-587. https://doi.org/10.1080/15476286.2023.2242650
  3. Catrina, I.E., Bayer, L.V., Omar, O.S., and Bratu, D.P. (2019) “Visualizing and Tracking Endogenous mRNAs in Live Drosophila melanogaster Egg Chambers” J Vis Exp. 148.
  4. McLaughlin, J.M., Smith, D.F.Q., Catrina, I.E., and Bratu, D.P. (2019)”P-bodies and the miRNA pathway regulate translational repression of bicoid mRNA during Drosophila melanogaster oogenesis” bioRxiv 283630; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/283630
  5. Bayer, L.V., Omar, O.S., Bratu, D.P. and Catrina, I.E. (2019) PinMol: Python application for designing molecular beacons for live cell imaging of endogenous mRNAs” RNA 25:305-318.
  6. Catrina, I.E., Bayer, L.V., Yanez, G., McLaughlin, J.M., Malaczek, K., Bagaeva, E., Marras, S.A.E., and Bratu, D.P. (2016) “The temporally controlled expression of Drongo, the fruit fly homolog of AGFG1, is achieved in female germline cells via P-bodies and its localization requires functional Rab11” RNA Biol. 13:1117-1132.
  7. Jackson,S.R., Wong, A.C., Travis, A.R., Catrina, I.E., Bratu, D.P., Wright, D.W., and Jayagopal, A. (2016) Applications of Hairpin DNA Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles for Imaging mRNA in Living Cells, Methods in Enzymology 572:87-103.
  8. Catrina, I.E., Marras, S.A.E. and Bratu, D.P. (2012) Tiny Molecular Beacons:  LNA/2'-O-methyl RNA Chimeric Probes for Imaging Dynamic mRNA Processes in Living Cells, ACS Chemical Biology 7:1586-95.
  9. Bratu, D.P., Catrina, I.E. and Marras, S.A.E. (2011) Tiny molecular beacons for in vivo mRNA detection, Methods Mol Biol. 714:141-57.
  10. Zalatan, J.G., Catrina, I., Mitchell, R., Grzyska, P.K., O'brien, P.J., Herschlag, D., Hengge, A.C. (2007) Kinetic isotope effects for alkaline phosphatase reactions: implications for the role of active-site metal ions in catalysis, J Am Chem Soc. 129:9789-98.
  11. Catrina, I., O'Brien, P.J., Purcell, J., Nikolic-Hughes, I., Zalatan, J.G., Hengge, A.C., Herschlag, D. (2007) Probing the origin of the compromised catalysis of E. coli alkaline phosphatase in its promiscuous sulfatase reaction, J Am Chem Soc. 129:5760-65.
  12. Kierzek, E., Kierzek, R., Turner, D.H., and Catrina, I.E. (2006) Facilitating RNA structure prediction with microarrays, Biochemistry 45:581-593.
  13. Yu, Z., Sanchez-Velar, N., Catrina, I.E., Kittler, E.L., Udofia, E.B., Zapp, M.L. (2005) The cellular HIV-1 Rev cofactor hRIP is required for viral replication, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:4027-32.

Yeshiva College

office: Belfer Hall 1608

lab: Belfer Hall 1618


To request an interview, please contact Media Relations at 212-960-5400 x5488 or publicaffairs@yu.edu


  • Organic Chemistry I & II (2019 - present)
  • Organic Chemistry Laboratory teaching and coordination (2019 - 2020)
  • Biochemistry (2019 - present)
  • Advanced Biochemistry (2023 - present)
  • Laboratory in Cell Structure: Applications of Light Microscopy to Studies of Cell Structure and Function (2009 - 2018)
  • Laboratory of Molecular Biology & Genetics (2018 - 2019)
  • microRNAs & Development (2017 - 2019)
  • Research Techniques for High School Students (2017 - 2019)