Jean L. Spencer, PhD

Instructor, Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Jean Spencer
72 E. Concord St Instructional (L)


Dr. Spencer is interested in the underlying mechanisms and functional consequences of heparan sulfate proteoglycan interference in various disease pathways, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, emphysema, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Her quantitative approach to these problems is based on a combination of biochemical, biophysical, and computational techniques.

In a current project on glaucoma, she is using in vitro testing to examine the feasibility of protecting the optic nerve from elevated pressure by modifying the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix through injections of replacement materials (proteoglycans, growth factors, etc.). She is also involved in the development of an innovative computational technique for predicting patterns of domain organization within a population of heparan sulfate chains that could lead to new strategies in understanding heparan sulfate-protein interactions and to new drugs for those interactions associated with disease.

Other Positions

  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • Carnegie Mellon University, PhD
  • Carnegie Mellon University, MS
  • University of Colorado Boulder, MS
  • Pennsylvania State University, BS


  • Published on 12/1/2013

    Spencer JL, Bhatia VN, Whelan SA, Costello CE, McComb ME. STRAP PTM: Software Tool for Rapid Annotation and Differential Comparison of Protein Post-Translational Modifications. Curr Protoc Bioinformatics. 2013 Dec; 44:13.22.1-36. PMID: 25422678.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/1/2013

    Nugent MA, Zaia J, Spencer JL. Heparan sulfate-protein binding specificity. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2013 Jul; 78(7):726-35. PMID: 24010836.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/23/2011

    Araújo AD, Majumdar A, Parameswaran H, Yi E, Spencer JL, Nugent MA, Suki B. Dynamics of enzymatic digestion of elastic fibers and networks under tension. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 7; 108(23):9414-9. PMID: 21606336.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/1/2010

    Guarnieri F, Spencer JL, Lucey EC, Nugent MA, Stone PJ. A human surfactant peptide-elastase inhibitor construct as a treatment for emphysema. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 8; 107(23):10661-6. PMID: 20534582.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/23/2010

    Spencer JL, Bernanke JA, Buczek-Thomas JA, Nugent MA. A computational approach for deciphering the organization of glycosaminoglycans. PLoS One. 2010; 5(2):e9389. PMID: 20186334.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2009

    Nugent MA, Mitsi M, Spencer JL. Proteins and Peptides: Pharmacokinetic, Pharmacodynamic, and Metabolic Outcomes(eds: Mrsny RJ, Daugherty A). In vitro/in vivo correlations of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and metabolism for extracellular matrix-binding growth factors. Informa Healthcare. New York. 2009; 53-79.

  • Published on 8/1/2006

    Spencer JL, Stone PJ, Nugent MA. New insights into the inhibition of human neutrophil elastase by heparin. Biochemistry. 2006 Aug 1; 45(30):9104-20. PMID: 16866356.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/1993

    Rawls HR, Lentz DL, Cobb GW, Bailey MS, Spencer J, Williams DA, Walley D, Vidra J. Interproximal penetration of commercial toothbrushes as determined by static and dynamic tests using recommended brushing techniques. J Clin Dent. 1993; 4:88-95.

  • Published on 10/1/1975

    Spencer, JL,Brown, LF. Experimental observations of gas phase-adsorbed phase interactions during counterdiffusion in porous alumina. J Chem Physics. 1975; 63(7):2882-9.

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