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Jansen Laboratory - Michaela Jansen's Biosketch

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Michaela Jansen is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Molecular Biophysics (CPMB) in the Medical School of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC).

Previously she was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. She joined Myles Akabas' Laboratory towards the end of 2003.

Initially Michaela Jansen's stay in the laboratory at Einstein was funded by a research fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG). Funding was obtained for a project aimed at investigating if / how ligands for the GABA binding site she had designed and synthesized would bind in the GABAA receptor agonist binding site. She utilized a technique called Substituted Cysteine Accessibility Method (SCAM) that was pioneered by Myles Akabas and Arthur Karlin to address this question.

GABA is short for Gamma Amino-Butyric Acid. GABA is the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system.

During her postdoctoral time in this laboratory Michaela Jansen also elucidated part of the transduction mechanism from ligand binding to gating (the opening of the ion channel) in serotonin (5-HT3A) receptors together with David Reeves, Moez Bali, and Myles Akabas.

Both the GABAA receptor and the 5-HT3A receptor belong to them same superfamily of ion channels, the so called Cys loop family. Other members are the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) and glycine receptors.

In another project Michaela Jansen and Myles Akabas developed a homology model of the GABAA receptor based on the structure of the nicotinic (nACh) receptor. This study utilized a technique called disulfide crosslinking to determine proximity relationships in the M2 and M3 transmembrane segments.

Recently, Michaela showed together with Moez Bali and Myles Akabas, that mammalian Cys Loop receptors can fold, assemble and function as ion-channels, even if a whole domain - the intracellular domain - is replaced by just a heptapeptide, thus mimicking the recently discovered prokaryotik Cys Loop receptor homologues that do not have an extended intracellular domain.

In a collaboration with the laboratory of I. David Goldman, Andong Qiu, Michaela Jansen and colleagues identified and characterized a new folate transporter.

Please find more information about these projects through the link publications!


2007 DAAD/GAIN fellowship for the Lindau Nobel Laureate conference , German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German Academic International Network (GAIN)
2006 Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Scholar Award, Belfer Institute for Advanced Biomedical Studies, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
2003-2005 Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG), spent at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
2003 Research Funds (Forschungsfonds) of the Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany
2002 Dissertation Award of the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy of the Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany

University studies / Previous Positions

Michaela Jansen studied Pharmacy at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz. Michaela enjoyed the diversity and the practical laboratory work during her studies. Major areas of focus during a regular pharmacy program in Germany are

Chemistry: Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry
Biology: Medical Plants, Phytochemistry, Histology, Molecular Biology, Genetic Engineering
Pharmacology and Toxicology: including Physiology, Pathophysiology of drugs and poisons
Pharmaceutical Technology
Clinical Pharmacy

She finished her university degree with the 2nd government-recognized exam (2. Staatsexamen). Afterwards she was an assistant researcher at the Positron Emission Tomography Center (PET-Center) at the Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany. Part of her training for getting qualified as a pharmacist was spent in a public pharmacy in Mainz and part in the pharmacy of the University clinic of the Johannes Gutenberg-University. The practical training was finished with the 3rd Staatsexamen.

During her dissertation in the laboratory of Professor Dr. Dannhardt she designed, synthetized and characterized ligands for the glycine binding site of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, the most important excitatory neurotransmitter receptor in the mammalian brain.

Michaela Jansen was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Germany. In her research project she synthesized ligands for the GABA binding site of the GABAA receptor with the goal of developiong subtype selective ligands that would have the advantage of less side-effects.

Memberships in Professional Societies

Biophysical Society

DPhG, German Pharmaceutical Society

NYAS, New York Academy of Sciences

SfN, Society for Neuroscience

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