Jennifer Morgan, Ph.D. Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole, MA
Jennifer Morgan is an Associate Scientist and the Associate Director of the Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She received her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Duke University and continued her postdoctoral studies in Cell Biology at Yale University. Dr. Morgan started her lab at the University of Texas at Austin in 2007 and was later recruited to the MBL in the summer of 2012. Dr. Morgan’s research program historically focuses on understanding how synapses, the contacts between neurons, normally function and how synaptic function is affected by neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s Disease. In a newer project, her lab also studies spinal cord injury and mechanisms of regeneration. She is a recent recipient of the Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience and a University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. Outside of the laboratory, Jennifer enjoys playing the piano and bass guitar and throwing pottery.
The Morgan Lab has been investigating the effects of the molecular tweezer, CLR01, on recovery from spinal cord injury. They perform their experiments in lampreys, which are early-evolved vertebrates that spontaneously undergo robust regeneration and recovery from spinal cord injury. Lampreys are great for cellular and molecular studies of spinal cord injury because they have very large, identified neurons that can be located in every animal, allowing for analysis of neuronal repair and regeneration at the single cell level. They also possess the same genes as in other vertebrates, including humans, emphasizing translational relevance.
Using the lamprey model, the Morgan Lab found that CLR01 reduced the neurotoxic aggregation of synuclein in spinal-injured neurons in vivo (Fogerson et al., Exp. Neurol., 2016). As a consequence, more neurons survived the injury. This is the first demonstration that a molecular tweezer might have therapeutic potential for treating spinal cord injury, in addition to an array of neurological diseases.