Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Tessa R. Calhoun

Committee Members

Christopher Baker, Michael Best, Francisco Barrera


Just as humans communicate with other humans, the cells in our bodies communicate with each other through various, often complex, mechanisms. Cell-to-cell transmission of small molecules, lipids, proteins, peptides, or nucleic acids can be mediated by extracellular lipid vesicles called exosomes. Exosomes have been found to play a role in the delivery of regulatory molecules from one cell to another, serving as a universal communication mechanism. Currently, there is an emerging focus on characterizing exosome communication dynamics. Understanding exosome mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication requires accurate measurements of the spatiotemporal and chemical dynamics of exosome secretion. No current analytical approach offers the appropriate combination of spatial, temporal, and chemical resolutions needed to understand the dynamics of exosome communication at the tissue or organ level. The research outlined in this dissertation aims to bridge the gap between bulk fluid analysis of exosome cargo and single cell visualization of individual exosomes at a single point in time. To achieve better understanding of the dynamics of exosome secretion, there is a critical need for new analytical technologies. Without meeting this need, the roles of exosome communication in human health cannot be thoroughly understood. The long-term goal of this research is to develop tools to characterize communication between cellular networks, and model mechanisms of disrupted pathways with significance to neurological disorders. The primary objective is to develop an assay for characterizing temporal and chemical dynamics of exosome secretion.

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