Jennifer Cook

Entering Class - 2013

E-MAIL: cookx803@umn.edu

UNDERGRAD INSTITUTION AND MAJOR:
Texas A&M University, B.S. in Biomedical Science, 2009

GRADUATE ADVISOR
Lucy Vulchanova, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

THESIS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

DESCRIPTION OF GRADUATE RESEARCH
Neuropathic pain is a significant public health problem, which comprises a large percentage of visits to pain clinics, and has a significant monetary impact on healthcare costs. Following injury there are endogenous nociceptive signals sent from sensory neurons to dorsal horn neurons. Understanding the mechanisms that allow for prolonged pro-nociceptive signaling in the dorsal horn is vital for understanding the transition from acute to chronic pain. The novel neuropeptide precursor VGF has been implicated in a wide variety of neural processes, including learning, memory, depression, and chronic pain. We have shown that the VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 contributes to both the development and maintenance of hypersensitivity after peripheral nerve injury and inflammation. The effects of TLQP-21 appear to be mediated by the complement 3a receptor C3aR1, and we have demonstrated that hyperalgesia evoked by intrathecally administered TLQP-21 depends on C3aR1 activation. Upregulation of C3aR1 in microglia has been found following CNS injury, and my preliminary results indicate that TLQP-21 evokes calcium transients in cultured primary microglia. The goal of my project is to investigate TLQP-21/C3aR1 mediated microglial signaling after injury and to examine their potential contribution to neuropathic pain.

RESEARCH AREAS

  • Neurobiology of Pain and Somatosensation

GRADUATE LEVEL PUBLICATIONS

  • Linsenbardt H.R., Cook JL, Young, E.E., Vichaya, E.G., Young, C.R., Reusser, N.M., Welsh, C.J., & Meagher, M.W. (2015). Social disruption alters pain and cognition in an animal model of Multiple Sclerosis. Journal of Neuroimmunology, Vol 288, 56-68.
  • Qiwen Yang, Xiuli Liu, Ting Zhou, Cook JL, Kim Nguyen, Xiaoying Bai. (accepted for publication 2016). RNA Polymerase II Pausing Differentially Regulates Signaling Pathway Genes to Control Hematopoietic Stem Cell Emergence in Zebrafish. Blood.
  • Suzanne Doolen, Cook JL, Maureen Riedl, Kelley Kitto, Christopher N. Honda, Carolyn A. Fairbanks, Bradley K. Taylor and Lucy Vulchanova. (in preparation). The spinal effects of the VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 are mediated by the Complement 3a receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.

GRADUATE LEVEL ABSTRACTS

  • Cook JL, Riedl MS, Maxon J, Parr AM, Vulchanova L. (2015). Characterization of spinal VGF expression and localization following spinal cord injury. Abstract for poster presentation, Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, Chicago, IL.
  • Cook JL, Kitto K, Riedl M, Fairbanks C, Vulchanova L. (2016). Complement-mediated effects of the VGF peptide TLQP-21. Journal of Pain; abstract for American Pain Society Meeting, Austin, TX.

ROTATIONS

GPN COMMITTEES

  • Mentorship Committee, 2015- present
  • Faculty Status Committee, 2015 – present

PROFESSIONAL OUTREACH

  • Brain Awareness Week Instructor
    L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion School, St. Paul, MN. 2013.
    Capitol Hill Magnet School, St. Paul, MN, 2015.
  • Science Fair Judge, Murray Middle School, 2013 - present

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Society For Neuroscience, 2014 - present
  • American Pain Society, 2015 - present

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE UMN?
I was looking for a program with a strong collection of renowned pain researchers. The University of Minnesota has such community, including over a dozen faculty members with close collaborations. Additionally, our pain group at Minnesota is well integrated into the global community of pain research.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A FIRST YEAR GRADUATE STUDENT?

Study hard, ask for help, and keep in perspective the fact that you are getting some of the best Neuroscience education in the world.

Jennifer Cook