Vikas Ghai, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Molecular Biology

Dr. Vikas Ghai is a postdoctoral fellow in the Hood-Price lab who research focuses on the identification of diagnostic tools for diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases. In particular, he is interested in using next-generation sequencing methodologies to identify circulating RNAs that can be used as prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers for these diseases, including those present in extracellular vesicles (EVs).

EVs are cell-derived lipid vesicles that include exosomes, macrovesicles, and apoptotic bodies that reside in the extracellular environment, including circulating in various body fluids. EVs have a diverse molecular cargo that incudes proteins, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), and lipids that reflect their cellular origin.

These RNAs include microRNAs (miRNAs) that regulate the expression of many target genes. Identifying circulating miRNAs signatures associated with disease will help us understand what biological processes, pathways, and networks are being perturbed during disease.

Some specific projects:

1. Identification of diagnostic circulating RNAs associated with prediabetic progression to type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and identification of prognostic RNAs associated with T2DM treatment (see Ghai et al. 2019a, Ghai et al. 2019b)

2. Identification of circulating RNAs in extracellular vesicles associated with diabetic nephropathy and CKD (see Ghai et al. 2018; Jaros, Sroya, Wolfe, Ghai  et al. 2018)

3. Identification of circulating RNAs and proteins in extracellular vesicles associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI) (Ghai et al. 2020)

4. Molecular characterization of the outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) released by Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative pathogen for Lyme Disease (see Malge, Ghai et al. 2018)

Molecular biology, diagnostics, transcriptomics, microRNAs, biomarkers, exosomes, gene regulation

B.Sc. (Honours) Biology – Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Waterloo

Ph.D. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry – Developmental Genetics, University of Calgary

Book chapters, reviews, and perspectives:

  • Das, S.,  Ghai, V*., Ansel, K.M., Bitzer, M., Breakefield, X.O., Charest, A., Galas, D.J., Gerstein, M.B., Gupta, M., Milosavljevic, A., McManus, M.T., Patel, T., Raffai, R.L., Rozowsky, J., Roth, M.E., Saugstad, J.A., Van Keuren-Jensen, K., Weaver, A.M., and Laurent, L.C. (2019) “The Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium: Establishing Foundational Knowledge and Technologies for Extracellular RNA Research”. Cell 177, 231–242. * co-second author as member of the ERCC
  • Ghai, V. and Wang, K. (2016). “Recent progress toward the use of circulating microRNAs as clinical biomarkers.” Archives of Toxicology 90(12):2959-2978
  • Ghai, V. Lee, I., Wang, K. (2018) “Circulating microRNAs as tumor biomarkers” Oncogenomics: from Basic Research to Precision Medicine. Ed. Franco Dammacco. Elsevier. pp. 191–206.

Research papers (selected):

  • Ghai, V., Fallen, S., Baxter, D., Scherler, K., Kim, T.-K., Zhou, Y., Meabon, J., Logsdon, A., Banks, W.A., Schindler, A., et al. (2020). “Alterations in plasma microRNA and protein levels in war veterans with chronic mild traumatic brain injury”. Journal of Neurotrauma. 10.1089/neu.2019.6826
  • Ghai, V., Kim, T.-K., Etheridge, A., Nielsen, T., Hansen, T., Pedersen, O., Galas, D., and Wang, K. (2019). “Extracellular Vesicle Encapsulated MicroRNAs in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Are Affected by Metformin Treatment”. Journal of Clinical Medicine 8(5), 617.
  • Ghai, V., Baxter, D., Wu, X., Kim, T., Kuusisto, J., Laakso, M., Connolly, T., Li, Y., Andrade-Gordon, P., Wang, K. (2019) “Circulating RNAs as predictive biomarkers for the progression of type 2 diabetes” Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine 23, 2753–2768 (2019)
  • Malge A, Ghai V, Reddy PJ, Baxter D, Kim TK, Moritz RL, Wang K. (2018) “mRNA transcript distribution bias between Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria and their outer membrane vesicles”. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 1;365(13)
  • Jaros, A., Sroya, HA., Wolfe, VK., Ghai, V. Roumelioti, M., Shaffi, K., Wang, K. Pankratz, VS., Unruh, ML., Argyropoulos, C. (2018) “Study Protocol: Rationale and Design of the Community-based Prospective Cohort Study of Kidney Function and Diabetes in Rural New Mexico. The COMPASS Study.” BMC Nephrology. 19(1):47
  • Ghai, V. Wu, X., Malge, A., Argyropoulos, C., Brendardo, J., Orchard, T., Johnson, J. and Wang, K. (2018) “Genome-wide Profiling of Urinary Exosomal microRNAs Associated with Diabetic Nephropathy in Type 1 Diabetes”. Kidney International Reports 3(3):555-572