Jean L. Spencer, PhD



Instructor of Biochemistry and Ophthalmology



B.S., The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
M.S., University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Ph.D., Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Research Interests:

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.

Selected Publications:

Spencer JL, Stone PJ, and Nugent MA. New insights into the inhibition of human neutrophil elastase by heparin. (2006) Biochemistry 45, 9104-9120.

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

Spencer JL, Bernanke JA, Buczek-Thomas JA, and Nugent MA. Computational model for predicting patterns of heparan sulfate domain organization (in preparation).