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Sidney Altman's research is concerned with the function and structure of ribonuclease P in both bacteria and human cells. His group investigates the properties of these enzymes and what they are doing in vivo. His group is also exploring the use of RNase P and so-called external guide sequences to activate various genes in bacteria and mammalian cells. This work has the potential to help address the ever-increasing resistance of micro-organisms to conventional antibiotics.
Professor Altman shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Thomas R. Cech for their discoveries, independent of each other, that RNA actively aids chemical reactions in cells. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and National Academy of Sciences. Prior to joining ASU, he was the Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and professor of chemistry at Yale University.