Yearly updates: August 2020

Another year’s worth of updates (August 2019 through August 2020)!

Keeping up with the lab webpage is still a lower priority than keeping up with the actual lab…..  For reference, we successfully navigated the campus-wide research “pause” due to COVID-19, and are now back to full capacity with strong social-distancing measures.


Very excited about Dr. Abou Assi’s new paper on how 2’-O-methylation alters the RNA secondary structural ensemble, in collaboration with the Al-Hashimi Lab. bioRxiv; 2020 May.

Check out Dr. Holley’s contribution to the new AHA Scientific Statement on Non-coding RNAs in Cardiovascular Disease: Current knowledge, tools and technologies for investigation, and future directions in Circulation Genomics and Precision Medicine.

See our Publications page for more updates.

Lab Members

Congratulations to Dr. Hsiang-Ting Ho, who has taken a job in Research Triangle Park at Icagen! (August 2020)

Lauren Truby, MD is a cardiology fellow working with Dr. Holley and Dr. Svati Shah on translational projects regarding HLA sensitization, primary graft dysfunction, and antibody-mediated rejection in heart transplantation.

Myra Cai is a Duke undergraduate who joined the lab just in time for COVID-19 to ruin her planned summer research!  We will await her return after a Fall Semester of distance learning.

Congratulations to Dr. Holley, who won the 2020 Cardiology Fellowship Mentoring Award.

New Grants and Awards

NIH F32 GM136155 (PI: Abou Assi): Structural and dynamics studies of post-transcriptionally modified snRNAs

NIH R01 GM135383 (PI: Holley): SnoRNA-Guided Modifications of Messenger RNA

2020 Mandel Seed Grant (Co-PI: Freedman and Holley): Atherogenic Mechanisms of Small Nucleolar RNAs

2020 Core Voucher (PI: Holley): Role of snoRNA-guided mRNA modifications in myocardial infarction (congratulations Yinzhou!)

Increasing the Diagnostic Accuracy of Antibody Mediated Rejection (AMR) in Cardiac Transplantation Patients (Sponsor: CareDx; PI: Holley, Co-PI: Glass): This study will test whether a new histologic “double stain”, in combination with cell-free DNA and DSA testing, will significantly increase sensitivity and specificity for the clinical diagnosis of AMR.


Dr. Holley served as a meeting organizer and speaker for the 2019 NC Symposium on RNA Biology XIII, hosted by Duke University.

Drs. Abou Assi and Holley both gave oral presentations at the 2020 Keystone Symposium on Noncoding RNAs: Mechanism, Function and Therapies. Whistler, BC, Canada.

Dr. Abou Assi presented her research to the NC RNA Society in February 2020.

Dr. Ho gave a virtual poster presentation for the 2020 AHA BCVS conference.

Updates July 2019

Another year’s worth of updates (2018 through July 2019)!

Keeping up with the lab webpage is a lower priority than keeping up with the actual lab…..


Congratulations to lead authors Brittany Elliot and Hsiang-Ting Ho for an outstanding manuscript published in Nature Communications!  Their work shows that snoRNAs can guide internal 2′-O-methylation of mRNA targets, which then regulates mRNA expression and translation. The target described in our paper (peroxidasin, Pxdn) provides a mechanistic link between the Rpl13a snoRNAs and the regulation of ROS and oxidative stress.

See our Publications page for more updates.

New Lab Members

Hala Abou Assi, PhD: Hala came to Duke in April 2018 after completing her PhD at McGill University in the Damha lab. As a post-doctoral fellow, she has a joint post-doctoral appointment in the Holley and Al-Hashimi labs.

Yinzhou Zhu, PhD: Yinzhou came to Duke in June 2019 after completing his PhD at University of Connecticut in the Carmichael Lab.

Alex Choi: Alex is a Duke undergraduate in the School of Engineering.

Grants and Awards

NIH R01 HL146381 (PI: Holley): The Role of RNA Modifications in Heart Failure

2019 Mandel Scholar Award (PI: Holley): RNA Modifications in Cardiovascular Disease

Translating Duke Health (PI: Holley): Proteomic Profiling of Heart Transplant Donors and Recipients to Determine the Role of Inflammation and Immune Activation in Primary Graft Dysfunction


Jan 2018  Keystone Symposium: DNA and RNA Methylation. Vancouver, BC (Canada). Brittany’s abstract was selected for both a poster and oral presentation, and she also won a travel award!

Feb 2018  University of North Carolina. UNC McAllister Heart Institute Seminar Series: Non-coding RNA, RNA Modifications, and Oxidative Stress in the Heart. (Holley)

March 2018  5th Annual RNA Symposium, RNA Institute at University of Albany: SnoRNA-guided modifications on mRNA. Albany, NY. (Holley)

Nov 2018  Stanford-Duke Cardiovascular Research Symposium: Unexpected biology of snoRNAs in the heart. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Award: Best Junior Faculty Presentation (Holley)

April 2019  Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore. SnoRNAs and RNA Modifications in Cardiovascular Disease. (Holley)

April 2019  American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting: Modification of mRNA by snoRNA-guided 2’-O-methylation. Orlando, FL. (Holley)

June 2019  Functions of Epitranscriptomes: Modification of messenger RNA by 2’-O-methylation regulates gene expression.  University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. (Holley)