Dr. Roberson-Nay Receives $275K NIMH R21 Funded Research Grant

Roxann Roberson-Nay, Ph.D. received a two year, $275K NIMH R21 grant for her “Quantification and Characterization of Bulk and L1CAM-Enriched Exosomal MicroRNA Cargo in Healthy Young People” research study.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-bound sacs that transport bioactive materials like proteins, DNA, and RNA. EVs are released from all (or nearly all) tissues into the bloodstream as a normal part of physiology. Because EVs easily cross the blood-brain-barrier, analyzing cell surface markers and biological cargo may enable researchers to identify neuronally-derived EVs and to monitor changes in cellular functioning through differential cargo analysis. A potential limitation of EV-miRNA research is that the inherent heterogeneity of EV populations may obscure mechanistic and biomarker research efforts. In this grant application, we will evaluate the reliability of isolating, purifying, and profiling exosomal EVs derived from blood plasma in a cohort of healthy adolescents and young adults, and we will benchmark generated outcomes.

We will identify 120 plasma specimens obtained from healthy young people to accomplish three primary aims: Aim 1) Quantifying and characterizing the total number of exosomal EVs extracted from blood plasma, Aim 2) Quantifying and characterizing total RNA quantity, size representation, and RNA integrity (RIN) estimates for bulk and L1CAM-enriched exosomal EVs (Bioanalyzer) and Aim 3) Characterizing miRNA cargo present in bulk and L1CAM-enriched exosomal EV populations.

Data generated by this study will inform the science of EV research in young people and provide insight into possible applications in psychopathology research.

Read more about this study at the NIH RePORTER.

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