After earning a B.A. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, Laura Jansen returned to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, where she entered the combined M.D., Ph.D. program of the St. Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Jansen excelled in her predoctoral training and graduated in 1998 Summa Cum Laude and as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Both her pediatric and neurology training were completed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital where she was exposed to many excellent clinician- scientists such as Steven Rothman, Bradley Schlagger, and Michael Wong. In 2004, she moved to Seattle to join the faculty of the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Seattle Children’s Hospital where she is currently an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Washington.
Dr. Jansen’s first exposure to research occurred during her senior year at Northwestern studying the regulation of metalloregulatory proteins in a glowing bacteria model in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas O’Halloran. At St. Louis University, her doctoral thesis was guided by Dr. Thomas C. Westfall. Her elegant studies demonstrated a novel role for neuropeptide Y in sympathetic neurotransmission. Using PC-12 pheochromocytoma cells differentiated to a sympathetic neuronal phenotype, Dr. Jansen used a combination of biochemical and electrophysiological techniques to demonstrate that neuropeptide Y was capable of inhibiting catecholamine synthesis via calcium- dependent mechanisms. These studies resulted in the publication of four first-authored, well-cited manuscripts in high impact journals including a publication in the Journal of Neurochemistry which has been cited 24 times.
During the final year of her clinical training at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Jansen worked in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Wong, where she contributed to Dr. Wong’s studies of glial dysfunction in tuberous sclerosis. Working with Dr. Wong, she used electrophysiological techniques to demonstrate impaired extracellular uptake of potassium by inward-rectifier potassium channels (Kir channels) by cultured TSC-1 deficient astrocytes. This important finding was published in Epilepsia; and, in the three years since its publication, it has already been cited 21 times.
Dr. Jansen’s current research addresses the hypothesis that an alteration of the electrophysiological properties of GABAA receptors in human focal cortical dysplasias contributes to epileptogenesis. Her current studies are supported by a Mentored Clinical Scientist Training Award from the NIH and are being performed under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Ransom in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann.
Dr. Jansen has been the been the recipient of numerous prizes including the CRC Press Award in Chemistry, an American Physiological Society Graduate Student Award, Rene Wegria Award in Pharmacology (St. Louis University School of Medicine), the Leonard Berg Prize for exceptional research peformed during residency (Washington University School of Medicine), and the prestigious Marshall Sherfield Fellowship which provided her the opportunity to hone her electrophysiological techniques under the mentorship of Dr. Dimitri Kullman.
In addition to the Child Neurology Society, she is an active member of the American Epilepsy Society and serves as a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Epilepsy Foundation Northwest.