For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD – June 27, 2017 – A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) provides researchers with an improved approach for correcting bias in studies that examine RNA sequences to better understand gene expression. RNA sequencing is an important method to measure gene expression but the technique is contingent on the quality of the RNA.

By measuring the degradation of RNA in human tissues, researchers at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) have derived a formula that corrects for RNA degradation in gene expression data. This correction formula can be applied to previous and future data sets of RNA, providing scientists with greater confidence in the data used to understand gene expression. Utilizing LIBD’s innovative algorithm will also accelerate efforts to understand the mechanisms of illness associated with various brain disorders and develop new treatments to ameliorate them.

“We believe this approach can more fully define RNA quality, including potentially subtle signal not captured by previous tools, particularly when studying postmortem tissue,” said Dr. Andrew Jaffe, Lead Data Scientist at LIBD.

Located on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, LIBD launched five years ago as a not-for-profit research institution focused on finding new cures for developmental brain disorders. Notably, the Institute has collected over 2,200 brains to provide for cutting edge research on the origins and treatment of mental illness.

“There is no refuting that big data will be a critical driver of discovery in brain research, but making sense out of gene expression requires reliable and high quality RNA,” said CEO and Director Daniel Weinberger, M.D. “The Lieber Institute has developed a novel method to fix the effect of RNA quality in expression analysis, enabling researchers to have much greater confidence in their findings.”

The new study, published June 20, 2017 in PNAS by LIBD researchers, is titled “qSVA framework for RNA quality correction in differential expression analysis,” and can be accessed at:

The study was supported by two different grants from the National Institutes of Health along with funding from the Lieber Institute for Brain Development.


About the Lieber Institute for Brain Development
The mission of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and the Maltz Research Laboratories is to translate the understanding of basic genetic and molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia and related developmental brain disorders into clinical advances that change the lives of affected individuals. LIBD is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and a Maryland tax-exempt medical research institute affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For more information please visit: