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West Virginia University

Department of Biology - Jennifer Gallagher

Gallagher Lab

Jennifer Gallagher

Jen Gallagher headshot

Contact Information


Room 5108 Life Sciences Building

Room 5105 Life Sciences Building


Google Scholar Profile


  • Chromatography

    To assess how cells are responding to a stress or toxin, we measure the changes of protein levels in the whole cell. To identify and measure thousands of proteins peptides must be separated so that the mass spec can identify as many peptides as possible. Read More

  • geneticassay

    As a species, yeast has more genetic diversity than humans. We harness this diversity to find the genetic differences that permit different responses to changes in the environment. Read More

  • Lab2015
  • lifesciences

    This is the Life Sciences Building - Link goes here

  • proteinpurification

    Most proteins work in complexes and by purifying, identifying and quantifying we can understand how the nature of a protein complex promotes cellular responses. Read More

  • proteome

    Levels of some proteins change when cells are treated with NQO. Read More

  • TFvariabiltyScatter_v3
  • YJM789


In the age of genomics, an enormous challenge to the field is predicting phenotypes from genotypes. We combine classical genetics and molecular biology with bioinformatics approaches such as genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics to assess how organisms respond to constantly changing environmental stresses. Yeast have evolved biochemical pathways including multiple drug resistance (MDR) to tolerate a broad class of toxic chemicals. However, there is considerable variation in growth inhibition across genetically distinct yeast strains in response to different chemicals. This leads to our guiding question: across genetically distinct individuals, what kind of genetic variation matters the most in predicting phenotypes?

Variation across genomes is expected but variation in key proteins are potent modulators of genetic diversity in response to environmental stresses. Transcription factors have more notable impact on phenotypes since they can regulate multiple genes thus have multiple and/or cumulative effects. These proteins are called master variators. To uncover master variators we have several ongoing projects.

Using genome-wide analysis studies we have uncovered variation in Yrr1, a transcription factor that redirects cellular pathways in response to DNA damaging drug 4NQO (4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide). We have focused on potential hypervariable phosphorylation sites that regulate the function of Yrr1 in yeast.

We have used transcriptomic analysis to predict the effect of 4MCHM, a chemical spilled in Elk River in January 2014, on yeast. This understudied chemical affects several pathways and we have uncovered treatments that alleviate growth inhibition by this chemical. We are also addressing the possible effect on development in a model organism Xenopus.

We have used comparative phenotypic analysis of Roundup resistant yeast to propose the existence of alternative metabolic pathways resistant to chemical inhibition. Roundup is an herbicide widely used in agriculture targets aromatic amino acid biosynthesis. Roundup resistance is a recent trait and future research will explore how yeast adapt and if the trait can spread through wild populations.

To understand how copper nanoparticles affect microbes we are mapping regions of the genome that regulate response to toxic levels of copper. Copper is a micronutrient that is both essential and highly toxic to humans. Dysregulation of copper levels is important in progression of several neurological diseases.

In each case we have utilized the different methods to address the underlying genetic cause of phenotypic variation in model organisms.

Recent News

Fall 2016
The first I ASK WHY Outreach was done at the WVU Core Arboretum with over 20 participants ages 5 to adult.

Gallagher lab is awarded an NSF grant for genetic analysis of glyphosate response and an NIH NIES grant for MCHM affect on cellular metabolism.

Summer 2016
Audrey Biega won runner up for WVU SURE poster session
Vince Pilolli won the the NSF undergrad research fellowship

Spring 2016
Matt Winans is awarded the Nanosafe Graduate Fellowship
Michael Ayers is awarded the WVU Mountains of Excellence Graduate Fellowship.