Vikas Ghai, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Molecular Biologist

Dr. Vikas Ghai is a postdoctoral fellow in the Hood-Price lab who research focuses on the identification of diagnostic tools for diabetes, cancer, and 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. This includes circulating RNAs species that are present in extracellular vesicles. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are cell-derived lipid vesicles that include exosomes, macrovesicles, and apoptotic bodies.  EVs have been found circulating in various body fluids, and contain proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids that reflect their cellular origin. These EV-encapsulated RNAs have emerged as potential biomarkers for various diseases and health conditions.

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 associatedwith T2DM treatment (see Ghai et al. 2019)
  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)
  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

Relevant peer-reviewed publications (ISB):

Book chapters and reviews:

Ghai, V., Lee, I. & Wang, K. Circulating miRNAs as Tumor Biomarkers. in Oncogenomics:From Basic Research to Precision Medicine(eds. Dammacco, F. & Silvestris, F.) 191–206 (Academic Press, 2019). doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-811785-9.00013-2

Ghai, V. and Wang, K. (2016). “Recent progress toward the use of circulating microRNAs as clinical biomarkers.” Archives of Toxicology90(12):2959-2978

Research papers:

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(2019). DOI:10.1111/jcmm.14182

Malge, A. Ghai, V. Reddy, PJ., Baxter D, Kim TK., Moritz, RL., and Wang K. (2018). “mRNA transcript distribution bias between Borrelia burgdorferibacteria and their outer membrane vesicles”. FEMS Microbiology. Letters365, 13

Ghai, V. Wu, X., Malge, A., Argyropoulos, C., Brendardo, J., Orchard, T., Johnson, J. Galas, D. and Wang, K. (2018) “Genome-wide Profiling of Urinary Extracellular Vesicle microRNAs Associated With Diabetic Nephropathy in Type 1 Diabetes”. Kidney International Reports3, 555–572

Protocols and study design:

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, 47

Other peer-reviewed publications:

Shen, Q. Shi, H., Tian, C., Ghai, V. and Liu, J. (2017) The C. elegans Spalt-like protein SEM-4 functions through the SoxC transcription factor SEM-2 to promote a proliferative blast cell fate in the postembryonic mesoderm. Developmental Biology429(1): 335-342

Ghai, V*., Smit RB, and J. Gaudet (2012). “Transcriptional regulation of pharyngeal gland subtype-expressed genes.” Mechanisms of Development129 (9-12):284-97 (*corresponding author)

Raharjo, W., Ghai, V, Dineen, A, Bastiani, M and Gaudet, J (2011). “Maintenance of gland cell morphology by surrounding musculature in the Caenorhabditis eleganspharynx.” Genetics189(3):885-97

Ghai, V. and J. Gaudet (2008). “The CSL transcription factor LAG-1 directly represses hlh-6 expression in C. elegans.” Developmental Biology322(2): 334-44