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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

*June 2015
Yeast Genome Paper is out. Song et al., 2015

  • January 2015
    The lab keeps growing with the additions of Justin and Scotia.
  • December 2014
    Julia successfully defends her undergraduate thesis.
  • November 2014
    The Roundup grant goes into to the NSF. Thanks to the whole lab for reading multiple versions.
  • October 2014
    Jen goes up the road to CMU for a talk and hosted by Joel McManus
  • September 2014
    Jen goes across the pond to University College of Dublin for a talk and hosted by Dr. Ken Wolfe
  • August 2014
    Welcome Apoorva and Michael to the lab as the first grad students. Also Emily came on board after she returned from China. While Zach moves to Vanderbilt University as a grad student.
  • July 2014
    Julia, Xiaoqing and Jen went to the Yeast Meeting in Seattle. That was a blast and I think the next meeting will be huge.
  • May 2014
    Amna defends her undergraduate thesis and goes on to medical school at WVU.
  • March 2014
    The interest in crude MCHM is impressive. Listen to an interview about it.

It was fast but impressive. Mike Snyder from Stanford came for a visit and amazed everybody with “the now” of personalized medicine.

  • February 2014
    Check out the Huffington Post mentioned work we are doing on 4MCHM.
  • Story
  • January 2014
    Congrats to Xiaoqing on having her first paper in from lab accepted.
  • October 2013
    Amna has been selected by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium to be designated a NASA Space Grant Scholar for the academic year 2013-14.
  • August 2013
    Welcome Xiaoqing and Kirsten to the lab
  • July 2013
    Congrats to Zach for winning first prize at WVU Undergraduate Summer Research Symposium
  • June 2013
    Lab field trip to the Pittsburgh Area Yeast Meeting
  • May 2013
    Welcome Cassie, Amna and Zach. The first members of the Gallagher lab.
  • February 2013
    lab is getting ready to open
  • January 2013
    Jen arrives at snowy West Virginia from Stanford

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