Skip to main content

Jennifer O'CONNELL

Dr. Jennifer Fiori O'Connell
Title: Biologist
Office(s): Diabetes Section (DS)
Phone Number: 410-558-8408
Email Address: jennifer.oconnell@nih.gov

Biography

Dr. Jennifer Fiori O’Connell graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University in 2000 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. During this time, she studied glycolytic enzyme co-localization in Drosophila flight muscle and was the recipient of the Donald G. Lundgren Memorial Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2006 under Dr. Fred Kaplan and Dr. Eileen Shore at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Her research was focused on investigating the dysregulation of bone morphogenetic protein signaling pathways in Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP), a devastating genetic condition in which bone forms in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue, resulting in complete immobilization. Dr. Fiori O’Connell was the recipient of multiple awards and fellowships, and one of her publications was given the Raisz-Drezner Award by the Association for Bone and Mineral Research. After graduating, she came to the National Institute on Aging and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Michel Bernier performing molecular studies to examine the transactivation, kinase activation, and intracellular trafficking of epidermal growth factor receptor in cancer cells. In 2010, Dr. Fiori O’Connell accepted a position as a Biologist in Dr. Josephine Egan’s lab in the Diabetes Section of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI). Her research has focused on several different areas including determining the contribution of pancreatic alpha cells to type 2 diabetes mellitus progression, investigating the role of natural polyphenols in preventing pancreatic islet changes induced by a high fat-high sugar diet in mice and non-human primates, and examining the role of cannabinoid receptors in tissue specific knockout mouse models of type 2 diabetes. The goal of the work done by Dr. Fiori O’Connell is to focus on ways to prevent insulin resistance, increase insulin sensitivity and secretion, and preserve beta-cells, ultimately preventing pre-diabetes from becoming diabetes. At NIA, she serves on multiple committees and is currently the vice chair of the Animal Care and Use Committee.