Rachelle Crosbie

Rachelle Crosbie

Department Chair

Email: rcrosbie@physci.ucla.edu
Office: 2121 TLSB
Phone: (310) 794-2103
Website: https://crosbie.ibp.ucla.edu/


Rachelle was raised in the Big Thicket of southeast Texas and spent her childhood in search of crawdads, water moccasins, and cottonmouths near the bayou. At the age of nine, she moved with her family to Saudi Arabia, where she learned to scuba dive, ride a camel, and survive in the Arabian desert. All of these adventures prepared her for a life in academia. During college, a summer internship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston sparked her interest in pursuing a career in research. She completed her Ph.D. graduate thesis with Professor Emil Reisler in the Department of Biochemistry at UCLA. During this time, she developed a love of protein biochemistry and an appreciation of the intricate relationship between the structure and function of contractile proteins that drive movement in skeletal muscle. As a graduate student, she was also passionate about education and received departmental awards for research and teaching. She then pursued postdoctoral research training in the laboratory of Professor and HHMI Investigator Kevin P. Campbell at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, during which time she was supported by the Robert Sampson Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Her research was focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is the most common of the rare diseases that affect children. During her postdoctoral research, she discovered a muscle protein that is associated with dystrophin and assigned it the name sarcospan based on its multiple sarcolemma-spanning domains. Her lab is now focused on basic and translational research of muscular dystrophies. She maintains her passion for education and teaching. She is a National Academies Education Scholar and was awarded the UCLA campus-wide Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the Coalition Duchenne Lotus Award, the Golden Test Tube Award, and the Life Sciences Award for Teaching Innovation. She developed a fully online course on Duchenne muscular dystrophy that is offered at all University of California campuses and beyond. She leads a NIH T32 training grant program that supports graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in muscle laboratories at UCLA. The results from her first education focused research study were recently published (Choe et al., 2019 CBE Life Sci Edu). The article describes a new coding method to determine the student engagement value of asynchronous online lecture videos. A second manuscript that is in preparation is focused on how students experience online courses. When out of the lab, Professor Crosbie enjoys driving her 1968 corvette on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Research Interests

Loss of appropriate connection between the muscle cell membrane and its surrounding extracellular matrix is a critical initiating event in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which is an inherited muscle wasting disorder that affects all skeletal and cardiac muscles. In fact, there are more children with this inherited muscle-wasting disorder than with all combined childhood cancers; yet there is no treatment. Whereas survival rates for childhood cancers have increased from 58% in 1975-1977 to 80% in 1996-2003, survival rates for DMD have remained the same, 0%. Thirty percent of the mutations in the dystrophin gene are spontaneous, which means that DMD will always be present in the population. Professor Crosbie’s research group has developed the use of the myofiber’s own compensatory mechanisms as a strategy to ameliorate dystrophic muscle. Such approaches are advantages in that they have the potential to target all DMD cases, regardless of the specific dystrophin mutation. Her lab has discovered that sarcospan, a transmembrane protein, evokes a set of molecular events that, when individually activated in DMD muscle, ameliorate dystrophin-deficient disease including cardiac, respiratory, and skeletal muscle dysfunction. The Crosbie lab has identified new chemical entities (small compounds) that activate sarcospan in DMD muscle cells, which the lab is pursuing as a treatment for DMD. Professor Crosbie’s group has also developed an in vitro platform to investigate the interaction of muscle resident cells with the extracellular matrix as a mechanism to investigate the effect of fibrosis on muscle function in health and disease. Professor Crosbie’s research has been continuously funded by NIH R01 grants, in addition to grants from industry and non-profit organizations.


B.S., Biochemistry, Texas A&M University 1989
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles 1994
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Selected Publications

Shu C, Kaxon-Rupp AN, Collado JR, Damoiseaux R, Crosbie RH (2019) ‘Development of a high-throughput screen to identify small molecule enhancers of sarcospan for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.’ Skelet Muscle, 9 (1): 32. PMID: 31831063.

Choe RC, Scuric Z, Eshkol E, Cruser S, Arndt A, Cox R, Toma SP, Shapiro C, Levis-Fitzgerald M, Barnes G, Crosbie RH (2019) ‘Student Satisfaction and Learning Outcomes in Asynchronous Online Lecture Videos.’ CBE Life Sci Educ, 18 (4): ar55. PMID: 31675279.

Gibbs EM, Barthélémy F, Douine ED, Hardiman NC, Shieh PB, Khanlou N, Crosbie RH, Nelson SF, Miceli MC (2019) ‘Large in-frame 5′ deletions in DMD associated with mild Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Two case reports and a review of the literature.’ Neuromuscul Disord, 29 (11): 863-873. PMID: 31672265.

Parvatiyar MS, Brownstein AJ, Kanashiro-Takeuchi RM, Collado JR, Dieseldorff Jones KM, Gopal J, Hammond KG, Marshall JL, Ferrel A, Beedle AM, Chamberlain JS, Renato Pinto J, Crosbie RH (2019) ‘Stabilization of the cardiac sarcolemma by sarcospan rescues DMD-associated cardiomyopathy.’ JCI Insight, 4 (11): 1-21. PMID: 31039133.