Nora Perrone-Bizzozero, PhD

Biography

Dr. Nora Perrone-Bizzozero is a Professor of Neurosciences at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine with a secondary appointment in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero was initially trained in Clinical and Basic Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Buenos Aires School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Argentina, where she received a Doctorate in Biochemistry. She later received her post-doctoral training in Neuroscience and Psychiatry at McLean Hospital Harvard Medical School, before joining UNM in 1990.

She is well recognized for her work on the molecular mechanisms controlling the expression of genes during normal brain development and in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia and fetal alcohol exposure, as well as drug addiction.  Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero has received continued federal funding as principal investigator (PI) for the past 30 years and has served a grant reviewer at National Institutes of Health (NIH) study sections for the past 20 years. For the past 10 years, she has been collaborating with investigators at the Mind Research Network (MRN) studying the effects of gene variation on brain structure and function in patients with schizophrenia; and has been characterizing the molecular mechanisms underlying substance use disorders. She has received several honors including being elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2011. She has published over 125 articles, book chapters, and reviews and given lectures on her basic molecular studies of brain development and the neurobiological and genetic aspects of schizophrenia, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and cocaine seeking at national and international meetings. She currently has two grants as principal investigator PI, one to study the role of RNA-binding proteins in neuronal development and another on the role of circRNAs in cocaine addiction. She is also a member of the faculty development and advisory committee of the MRN/UNM COBRE Phase III center grant on schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders and collaborator on a grant to study the neuroimaging and genetics of schizophrenia.

Areas of Specialty

Post-transcriptional regulation of neuronal coding and non-coding transcripts
RNA-binding proteins
Cocaine addiction
Schizophrenia genetics and epigenetics

Education

Post-Doc, Neuroscience/Psychiatry (1987):
McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Belmont, MA

Phd, Biochemistry (1984):
University of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina 

MS, Clinical Biochemistry (1981:
University of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Achievements & Awards

  • Excellence in Basic Science Award, UNM Health Sciences Center - 2013
  • AAAS Fellow (Biology), American Association for the Advancement of Science - 2011
  • Earl A. Walker Award for Outstanding Research in Neuroscience, University of New Mexico -2005
  • NARSAD Independent Investigator Award - 1999
  • Dean’s Award of Distinction, University of New Mexico School of Medicine - 1997
  • Regent's Lectureship Award, University of New Mexico - 1993
  • Apple for the Teacher Award, University of New Mexico School of Medicine - 1992
  • Scottish Rite Schizophrenia Research Program Award - 1987

Key Publications

  • Bastle RM, Oliver RJ, Gardiner AS, Pentkowski NS, Bolognani F, Allan AM, Chaudhury T, St Peter M, Galles N, Smith C, Neisewander JL, Perrone-Bizzozero NI.* In silico identification and in vivo validation of miR-495 as a novel regulator of motivation for cocaine that targets multiple addiction-related networks in the nucleus accumbens. Mol Psychiatry. 2018 Feb;23(2):434-443 https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2016.238
  • Wright C., Gupta, N. C., Chen, J., Patel, V., Calhoun, V. D., Ehrlich, S., Wang, L., Bustillo, J. R., Perrone-Bizzozero, N I.*, and Turner, J. A. Ph.D. Polymorphisms in MIR137HG and microRNA-137 regulated genes influence gray matter structure in schizophrenia. Transl. Psychiatry 6, 2016 e724; https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2015.211
  • Gardiner, A.S., Gutierrez, H., Luo, L. Davies S., Savage, D. D. and Bakhireva, L. N., and Perrone- Perrone-Bizzozero, NI*.  Alcohol use during pregnancy is associated with specific alterations in microRNA levels in maternal serum. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 2016, Vol 40 (4): 826–837 https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.13026
  • Tanner DC, Qiu S, Bolognani F, Partridge LD, Weeber EJ, Perrone-Bizzozero NI* (2008) Alterations in mossy fiber physiology and GAP-43 expression and function in transgenic mice overexpressing HuD. Hippocampus. 2008; 18(8): 814–823. https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.20442
  • Beckel-Mitchener A. C., Miera, A., Keller, R., and Perrone-Bizzozero, N.I.* Poly(A) tail dependent-stabilization of the GAP-43 mRNA by HuD J Biol Chem. 2002 Aug 2;277(31):27996-8002. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M20198220
  • Perrone-Bizzozero, N.I.*, Sower, A. C., Bird, E. D., Benowitz, L. I. Ivins, K. and Neve, R. L. Levels of the growth associated protein GAP-43 are selectively increased in association cortices in schizophrenia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 1996, 93:14182-14187 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.93.24.14182

    *Denotes corresponding author

Gender

She, her, and ella

Languages

Fluent in English and Spanish, good knowledge of French and Italian

Research

Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero’s research program focuses on the post-transcriptional mechanisms controlling gene expression during normal brain development as well as neuropsychiatric disorders. Her laboratory was among the first to demonstrate the significance of mRNA stability mechanisms in neurons and for the past 20 years, she has been characterizing the function of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in the control of neuronal differentiation, regeneration and synaptic plasticity. These studies demonstrated that the mammalian ELAV-like protein 4, also known as HuD, promotes neuronal differentiation by stabilizing GAP-43 and other neuronal mRNAs. These studies used in vitro and in vivo systems to demonstrate the role of HuD in mRNA stability in the brains of HuD overexpressor mice generated in her lab and HuD KO mice. Furthermore, her laboratory uses a combination of RNA-IP (RIP)-chip, RIP-seq, cross-linking IP (CLIP) and in vitro binding and mRNA decay assays for the genome-wide identification of HuD’s targets and functional regulation. A recent focus of her lab involves the competitive interactions of HuD with microRNAs, such as miR-495, and other RBPs, such as KSRP, along with its interactions with circular RNAs (circRNAs) vs. mRNAs in the control of gene expression, neuronal function and cocaine-seeking behavior. In addition to these basic studies, she has also examined the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, including microRNAs, contributing to abnormal brain structure and function in schizophrenia, bipolar and major depressive disorders, and fetal alcohol syndrome.