Charles Rocco

Charles Roco

UW Bioengineering Ph.D. student Charles Roco has received two awards to advance and establish applications of a single-cell RNA sequencing method he co-developed with his research mentor Georg Seelig, associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering (adjunct BioE), and Seelig lab postdoc Alexander Rosenberg. With Split-Pool Ligation-based Transcriptome sequencing, or SPLiT-seq, Charles aims to address the affordability, accessibility and scalability of current single-cell RNA sequencing techniques.

These methods require cell sorters and custom microfluidics to isolate single cells, and their cost and limited scalability have limited their adoption. SPLiT-seq labels the cellular origin of RNA through combinatorial indexing. The method can enable the profiling of billions of cells in a single experiment using only basic lab equipment. At a cost of less than a cent per cell, SPLiT-seq could increase access to single-cell RNA sequencing to labs where the technology was once out of reach. Learn more about SPLiT-seq.

Earlier in 2017, a NIH Translational Research Training Grant (TL1), provided by UW’s Institute for Translational Health Sciences, enabled Charles to further develop SPLiT-seq and use it to better understand tumor microenvironments. With his recent Interdisciplinary Dual Mentor Fellowship in Cancer Research from the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, he is working with Dr. Seelig and Aude Chaupuis to reduce time-to-treatment and overall cost of adoptive T cell therapies.