Jennifer Hesterman

Grad Teaching Associate
Sols Graduate Programs
Graduate Student
Personalized Diagnostics

Location: TEMPE

Contact Information

Research Interests


I am interested in research related to human mental health. Unlike physical ailments, mental disorders have few, if any, medical tests available in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. I feel that it would be advantageous to develop methods of detection differentiating each illness type to achieve a diagnosis more quickly. This could lead to quicker recovery since treatments for the right illness would be used to begin with. I also believe it would beneficial to discover biomarkers that could be used to create a targeted medicine approach. Doctors have the ability to do genetic tests to determine which drugs would be most effective against the tumor type. Currently with psychological disorders, the patient may have to go through several tiers of medicine types or combinations to find a treatment that works. To compound this, many psychoactive drugs take weeks for a perceived effect and may require gradual tapering off the dosage before attempting a new medicine. These issues lengthen the time it takes to help people become functional and well again.

Additionally, I am fascinated by the possibility of finding new treatments and understanding by which mechanisms they operate. Antidepressants can treat both depression and anxiety disorders but their different manifestations suggest different etiologies. Even some of the drugs on the market today have vague descriptions of the mechanism of action. Neurotransmitter effects are widely known for individual drugs, but it is the intracellular consequences that are producing clinical effects. Describing the therapeutic route of a drug could also explain why a particular drug would work for a patient when one from the same category failed previously.





I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology from NorthernArizonaUniversity in 2009. Since then, I have had the opportunity to learn medical billing, work in a Surgical Pathology at Scottsdale Healthcare, and I spent a year doing research on traumatic brain injury in Dr, Stabenfeldt's laboratory at ASU. I started my first semester in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Neuroscience PhD Program in Aug 2014.

 Currently, I am rotating in Dr. Whiteaker’s Laboratory at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. I am working on a project that aims to catalog acetylcholine nicotinic receptor subunit types in immune cells at different stages on illness in an experimental multiple sclerosis model in order to gain an understanding of the role these subunits have in disease progression and severity.