About us 

RNA Science

RNA is at the core of our biology.
Translating our DNA into the very products and processes that make us human.


The UNSW RNA Institute was established to perform a similar function: to translate the potential of NSW bioscience into the products that will improve our health and the quality of our lives. These products are the vaccines and treatments for emerging diseases such as COVID-19, but also therapeutics for the yet more complex challenges of cancers, infectious, rare genetic and neurodegenerative diseases – all areas to be pioneered by the UNSW RNA Institute.

For all the tantalising potential of RNA science, the progress has been stymied by a bottleneck of scale and, formerly, cohesion. The wealth of RNA expertise in NSW – represented by its talent and facilities – has been kept separate by the physical boundaries of research institutions and the more abstract boundaries of research discipline. And this is where we find the UNSW RNA institute.

The mission of the UNSW RNA Institute is bold.


A new ‘RNA ecosystem’ is emerging in NSW, made from a robust network of collaborating research institutions, such as those 14 universities that constitute the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance and the dozen research organisations within the NSW RNA Production Research Network.
The UNSW RNA Institute will form a key connective hub of this ecosystem, uniting researchers from previously disparate disciplines – biology, chemistry, medicine – and connecting them with the facilities they need to translate their research.
This interdisciplinary approach to research challenges will have a major impact on delivering RNA technologies and therapeutics for human welfare.

Our mission is to grow and support the NSW RNA Ecosystem:

• mRNA Vaccines
• Other RNA Therapeutics
• RNA Delivery Systems

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Meet the team

The UNSW RNA Institute is Australia’s leading RNA research institute, bringing together researchers from UNSW Science, Engineering and Medicine & Health, led by Director Professor Pall Thordarson, with collaborative input from other universities and institutes.


Prof Pall ThordarsonProf. Pall Thordarson 

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from The University of Iceland, he completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Sydney in 2001. Joining the School of Chemistry at UNSW Sydney in 2007, Professor Thordarson was a Chief Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science 2014-2021. He has served as the Deputy Head of School of Chemistry since 2018. 

His research interest ranges from Nanomedicine and Light-harvesting Materials to Supramolecular and Systems Chemistry. He is focused on advancing our understanding of how molecules interact with one other and ‘self-assemble’, and how self-assembly can then be harnessed to create novel functional materials and systems. In collaboration with UNSW RNA Institute colleague Dr Albert Fahrenbach, he has extended this understanding to the synthesis of RNA and how RNA interacts with other materials. His key RNA research activities include nanoparticle delivery systems, RNA synthesis, RNA supramolecular chemistry and bioconjugate chemistry.  

Recent RNA publications include Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2021 & 2015), Adv. Healthcare Mat. (2020), J. Med. Chem. (2020) and Nature Commun. (2017).

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Thordarson Group


RNA Institute Staff

RNA Medicine

RNA Biology

RNA Chemistry