William Fairbrother majored in chemistry at Oberlin College, then worked briefly as a freelance journalist before starting graduate school at Columbia University in the Department of Biological Sciences. His postdoctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was performed in Phil Sharp’s Lab, with Chris Burge as a joint postdoc advisor. Since coming to Brown University, he has focused on using high throughput and computational methods to define elements important in gene expression.
Fairbrother’s lab uses a combination of computational biology and high throughput genomics techniques to identify functional elements in the genome. They seek to understand recognition events important in gene expression, such as transcription and RNA splicing. Specific projects include 1) understanding how particular arrangements of sequence elements are read by the splicing machinery, 2) identifying mutations/polymorphisms that disrupt splicing in the human population and 3) defining combinatorial interactions between transcription factors (mostly Oct and Forkhead factors) that help maintain the pluripotent state of embryonic stem cells.