Current Postion: Residency in Lab Animal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Krystal was fascinated by science and medicine at an early age and combined that with a love of animals which drove her to pursue Veterinary Medicine. While studying at her undergraduate institution, she rediscovered her passion for science and decided that she wanted to do research as well. It was then that Krystal decided to apply to the Combined Degree Program at Cornell. One of the reasons she deiced to pursue the Combined DVM/PhD Degree Program was because she was passionate about science and medicine and believed that taking a comparative approach across all species will lead us to insights and discoveries that might otherwise be missed by a single-species approach. She would like to work in translational medicine, helping to bridge the gap between academic research and future medical treatments whether those treatments are aimed at helping animals or humans. While she pursued her dual degrees, Krystal felt that her veterinary training helped to inform her approach to research questions, allowing her to envious realistic endpoints and to keep her studies relevant to our current understanding of physiology. Krystal enjoys investigating the role of the GnRH receptor in the neuroendocrine signaling pathways regulating reproduction in mammals, reading, dancing, and practicing her orthopedic exam skills on a very tolerant pet cat.
PhD, Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University
I began by researching the biochemical aspects of intracellular signaling downstream of the GnRH receptor, focusing around the enzyme, Pyk2. As this project was moving rather slowly and not yielding much useful data my advisor and I decided to shift the focus of my project from signaling to trafficking. I am currently working on determining the intracellular trafficking pathway of the GnRH receptor and its component signaling proteins to determine where these proteins reside within the cell, how efficiently they are produced and trafficked to their site of activation and where they go once activated. I have generated several fusion proteins linking the fluorophore, Dendra, (a GFP-like protein) to the GnRH receptor, a downstream signaling protein, ERK2, as well as Actin and Tubulin. Currently I am observing these fusion proteins in an over-expression scheme in alpha T3-1 cells under a confocal microscope and tracking these molecules upon hormone activation. I am also beginning to use a protein, produced by Vimal in the Travis lab, which combines domain 4 from perfringotoxin (of Clostridium perfringens) with GFP as a fluorescent marker of cholesterol enriched membrane microdomains with an aim to colocalize the GnRH receptor with this marker.
Her interests also lie in Reproductive Physiology/Endocrinology, Molecular Biology, G-Protein Coupled receptors, MAP Kinase Cascades, Intracellular Signaling, and Comparative Veterinary Medicine.
Publications & Presentations
Jianjun Xie, Krystal H. Allen, Amy Marguet, Kathie A. Berghorn,Stuart P. Bliss, Amy M. Navratil, Jun Lin Guan and Mark S. Roberson. Analysis of the calcium-dependent regulation of proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 by gonadotropin-releasing hormone. In Press: October 2008 issue of Molecular Endocrinology.
Poster Presented at Graduate Student Recruitment 2005, and at the Vertebrate Genomics Symposium 2005: "Pyk2 Activation in Response to GnRH and Interactions with Calmodulin", Krystal Allen, Jianjun Xie, Kathie Berghorn, and Mark Roberson