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Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Pennsylvania, 1998-2002
Research Fellow, Trinity College,1997-1998
PhD, Biotechnology, University of Aarhus, 1997
MSc, Chemistry and Biotechnology, University of Aarhus, 1994
Dr. Jensen’s laboratory explores the roles of the interleukin-1 (IL-1) system and epithelial cells in health and disease. The long-term goals are to: 1) identify defective signaling pathways in chronic inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and hepatitis, and 2) develop novel therapies for these diseases.
IL-1 is a pleiotropic pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in inducing, for example, fever, vasodilation, migration of leukocytes and cell differentiation and growth. The IL-1 system comprises a complex network of extracellular proteins, membrane receptors and intracellular signaling molecules. This system regulates the initiation of immune responses by controlling gene expression and cellular phenotypes. While the pro-inflammatory signal transduction pathways (see figure) are complex, an equally elaborate scheme controls these pathways. These anti-inflammatory mechanisms include numerous inhibitory proteins and microRNAs. The intracellular signaling cascade utilized by IL-1 is largely shared by the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Dr. Jensen has discovered several novel proteins in the IL-1 system. Using tissue culture and animal models, the laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms whereby these, and other, proteins function.
Upon injury, epithelial cells are likely to be the first to encounter an intruding potential pathogen. To ensure that the invading microorganisms are eliminated rapidly the epithelial cells detect these through the TLRs. Consequently, several danger signals are generated which in turn recruit and activate immune cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells. Interestingly, the IL-1 system includes a number of novel cytokines of unknown function. The tissue distribution of these cytokines suggests that they are of particular importance in epithelial tissues, which are in direct contact with the environment, e.g. skin, lungs and digestive tract. The Jensen laboratory investigates the normal biological functions of these cytokines during homeostasis and infections. Furthermore, the laboratory is interested in understanding how dysregulated expression of these cytokines during chronic inflammatory conditions may contribute to disease pathology. Collapse
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