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Jen Pan, Ph.D.
Jen Q. Pan is the director of translational neurobiology at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she is an institute scientist. The research of her group focuses on translating emerging genetics into biology and to enable next-generation therapeutics to treat psychiatric illnesses. In the past few years, Pan has been working on genes whose dysfunction has been implicated for psychiatric illnesses using molecular, cellular, and electrophysiological approaches, both in vitro and in animals. Her group has expertise in the physiology of ion channels, part of the large protein family critical to neurons firing and muscles moving. She leads the ICE-T (ion channel electrophysiology and technology) effort enabled by Broadnext10 initiative to utilize state-of-art technologies for studying ion channels and electrogenic transporters, and to find novel ways to modulate these highly specialized membrane proteins.
Before joining the Broad in 2007, Pan worked at Incellico, Scion Pharmaceutical, and Amgen. Much of her work in industry involved drug discovery of sodium and calcium channels and the specific roles they play in neuropathic pain, a comorbidity of a variety of diseases from diabetes to cancer that brings significant suffering, and other neurological disorders.
In her role within the Stanley Center, Pan brings her expertise in neurobiology to other seemingly intractable illnesses, including bipolar disorder. Pan has investigated why the standby treatment lithium, used for more than 60 years to treat bipolar disorder, works well in some people but not at all in others. Her team has shed light on the biochemical pathways involved in bipolar disease and pointed the way toward enhancing lithium’s efficacy with new compounds. Her work at Broad Institute has been supported by NIH, research foundations, and Broadnext10 initiatives.