Cerebrovascular Disease and Aging Laboratories

Aya Pusic

Pathways to Independence Instructor


Postdoctoral Scholar


Graduate Student


Aya Pusic received her B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2007. Following graduation, she worked as a Staff Research Associate II for Dr. Davide Ruggero at the University of California, San Francisco, investigating the molecular mechanisms by which impairments in accurate control of mRNA translation, cell growth and overall protein synthesis rates lead to B cell lymphoma. Additionally, she had the opportunity to work with a collaborator, Dr. Maria Barna, studying the role of ribosomal proteins in Hox gene regulation during vertebrate embryonic development.

In April 2010 Aya joined the Kraig Lab as a graduate student. The focus of her thesis was on the contribution of blood-borne exosomes and their miRNA constituents to environmental enrichment-based neuroprotection, and the possibility of using bone marrow-derived dendritic cell cultures as an exogenous source of similar exosomes. More broadly, she is interested in the role of exosomes in communication between immune and CNS cells, particularly in the context of neuroinflammation. 

As part of the Pathways to Independence Program, her goal is to acquire the necessary training and practical experience to develop into an independent and academic scientific investigator. She remains interested in the role of exosomes in communication between major biological systems, and her future research goals include investigating the neuroimmunomodulatory effects of EE and EE-mimetic exosomes, with the ultimate goal of applying this knowledge to the development of immune-based neurotherapeutics and especially those for TBI.   


Award for best dissertation in the Division of the Biological Sciences (Autumn 2014)

The Committee award for outstanding performance in the general field of Neurobiology (Autumn 2014)

Peer-reviewed Publications

Pusic AD, Kraig RP (2015) Phasic treatment with IFNγ stimulates release of exosomes that protect against spreading depression. Interferon Cytokine Res. (Epub ahead of print). 

Pusic AD, Mitchell HM, Kunkler PE, Kraig RP (2014) Spreading depression transiently disrupts myelin via interferon-gamma signaling. Exp Neurol doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.12.001.

Pusic KM, Pusic AD, Kemme J, Kraig RP (2014) Spreading depression requires microglia and is decreased by their M2a polarization from environmental enrichment. Glia 62:1176-1194.

Pusic AD, Pusic KM, Kraig RP (2014) What are exosomes and how can they be used in multiple sclerosis therapy? Expert Rev Neurother 14:353-355.

Pusic AD, Kraig RP (2014) Youth and environmental enrichment generate serum exosomes containing miR-219 that promote CNS myelination. Glia 62:284-299.

Pusic AD, Pusic KM, Clayton BL, Kraig RP (2014) IFNγ-stimulated dendritic cell exosomes as a potential therapeutic for remyelination. J Neuroimmunol 266: 12-23.

Cipolla M, Pusic AD, Grinberg YY, Chapman A, Poynter ME, Kraig RP (2012) Pregnant Serum Induces Neuroinflammation and Seizure Activity via TNF-alphaExp Neurol 234: 398-404.

Pusic AD, Grinberg YY, Mitchell HM, Kraig RP (2011) Modeling neural immune signaling of episodic and chronic migraine using spreading depression in vitro.  J Vis Exp doi: 10.3791/2910.

Kondrashov N, Pusic A, Stumpf CR, Shimizu K, Hsieh AC, Xue S, Ishijima J, Shiroishi T, Barna M (2011) Ribosome-mediated specificity in Hox mRNA translation and vertebrate tissue patterning. Cell Apr 29;145(3):383-97.

Barna A, Pusic A, Zollo O, Costa M, Kondrashov N, Rego E, Rao PH, Ruggero D (2008) Suppression of Myc oncogenic activity by ribosomal protein haploinsufficiency.  Nature 456:971-915.

Recent Abstracts

Pusic AD, Pusic KM, Kraig RP (2014) Immune cells from environmentally enriched rats secrete exosomes that promote myelination. Soc Neurosci 40: Prog #224.07.

Pusic KM, Pusic AD, Kraig RP (2014) Nasal administration of IFNγ-stimulated dendritic cell exosomes. Soc Neurosci 40: Prog #225.08.