About Jennifer Franko
Jennifer Franko, PhD, is interested in understanding how and why disease develops. She loves to kayak, hike and mountain bike. She says the most rewarding part of her role is helping students realize their path and find ways to help them pursue it.
- West Virginia University School of Dentistry
- Dental Research
Adjunct Teaching Assistant Professor
- BS, Geneva College
- PhD, Case Western Reserve University
About Jennifer Franko
Jennifer earned her Ph.D. in Pathology from the Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease and Immunology Training Program at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH), where her research focused on characterizing the signal transduction pathways used by co-stimulatory receptors to regulate T cell activation.
For her post-doctoral training (CDC/NIOSH; Morgantown, WV), she applied her knowledge of T cell activation to the understanding of occupational respiratory disease by investigating how specific chemicals modulate immune responsiveness to enhance the allergic-like responses associated with occupational asthma.
She joined the faculty at Bethany College (Bethany, WV), as an Assistant Professor of Biology in 2011, where she initiated several highly productive research collaborations with faculty at WVU that led to the successful acquisition of research awards supported by the NIH NIGMS (NIH-IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)) and the WV Higher Education Policy Commission.
In 2015, she moved to the WVU School of Medicine, where she has worked as a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology for the past 6 years. She is currently the course coordinator for MICB702: Microbiology and DENT 601: Advanced Oral Microbiology; courses taken by 2nd year dental students and dental residents, respectively.
She also teaches in the School of Medicine and Immunology and Medical Microbiology (IMMB) Undergraduate Program. Her research, which is funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms that contribute to sexually dimorphic immune responses. Specifically, these studies aim to determine the individual and collaborative roles of sex hormones, XX vs. XY sex chromosome complements and the microbiome in differential responses between males and females.