Jonathon Sewell, a graduate student in the Winckler lab, has been awarded a Presidential Fellowship in Collaborative Neuroscience to study a potentially novel mechanism in nervous system development. This fellowship program is a collaboration between the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, the UVA Brain Institute, and the Neuroscience Graduate Program. During development of the nervous system, neurons are overproduced and subsequently pared down through cell death to ensure the proper connections are supported and stabilized. Neuronal circuits sending signals from the brain to peripheral organs rely on long-distance interneuronal communication to complete this process; however, the mode by which this communication occurs is unknown. The fellowship will investigate the potential role of neuron-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) in this developmental process. EVs are small lipid compartments released by cells that are capable of mediating intercellular communication. Jonathon will explore the EV-dependent signaling responses in recipient neurons as they relate to the developmental decision to survive or undergo cell death. He will further investigate the interaction between EVs and recipient neurons to understand potential cellular mechanisms responsible for EV-dependent responses. Overall, these studies will discover if neuron-derived EVs are capable of intercellular communication to promote recipient neuron survival, which would greatly improve our understanding of the development of neuronal circuits that transmit signals from the brain.