Jillian Nissen Ph.D.


Jillian Nissen Ph.D
  • Assistant Professor
  • Biological Sciences
  • Natural Sciences Building S-205
  • Email: nissenj@oldwestbury.edu
  • Phone: (516) 876-2731

Research Interests

  • Neuroscience and Immunology
  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Gender differences in immune function

It has long been established that men are not only more likely to be diagnosed with many types of cancer than women, but they are then more likely to die of the disease compared to female patients. This is true in glioblastoma, which is a particularly deadly form of brain cancer that has an average survival time of only 12 months after diagnosis. One factor that makes glioblastoma so hard to treat is that it can evade detection and elimination by the immune system. This leads to the primary research question my lab addresses – do men and women have fundamental differences in the ability of their immune systems to identify and attack cancer cells? Projects focus on characterizing functional differences between male and female microglia, the primary immune cell of the brain and spinal cord, through cell culture and molecular biology techniques. In particular, identification of genes that are differentially regulated between male and female microglia could be developed as therapeutic targets.

Prior to joining SUNY Old Westbury, I was an IRACDA postdoctoral researcher at Stony Brook University. This program has the goal of training the next generation of faculty to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. This video provides some more insight into my work during my time there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-ZLpatZsFU


Female and male microglia


Inflammatory microglia function in a tumoricidal manner

Inflammatory microglia function in a tumoricidal manner. Neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) knockout from microglial cells results in their shift to a more inflammatory phenotype in a mouse model of glioblastoma. (Left) Microglial-specific knockout of Nrp1 results in drastically reduced glioma size in mice (DAPI – nuclei, GFP – glioma). (Right) Nrp1 knockout results in increased microglial infiltration (Iba1) into the tumor border (GFP). (Miyauchi JT… Nissen JC et al., 2016)

Selected Publications

  • Nissen, JC., Koenig, KP., West, BL., and Tsirka, SE. Pharmacological depletion of microglia attenuates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Experimental Neurology (In Revision)
  • Nissen, JC. (2017) Microglial function across the spectrum of age and gender. IJMS Mar 4; 18(3)
  • Nissen, JC., and Tsirka, SE. (2016) Tuftsin-driven experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis recovery requires Neuropilin-1. Glia 64(6):923-36
  • Miyauchi JT, Chen D, Choi M, Nissen JC, Shroyer KR, Djordevic S, Zachary IC, Selwood D, Tsirka SE. (2016) Ablation of Neuropilin-1 from glioma-associated microglia and macrophages slows tumor progression. Oncotarget 7(9):9801-14
  • Gao, Z.*, Nissen, JC.*, Legakis, L, and Tsirka, SE. (2015) Nicotine modulates neurogenesis in the central canal during EAE. Neuroscience. 297:11-21 *Equal contribution
  • Gao, Z., Nissen, JC., Ji, K., and Tsirka, SE. (2014) The experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis disease course is modulated by nicotine and other cigarette smoke components. PLoS One. 9(9):e107979
  • Nissen, JC., Selwood, DL., and Tsirka, SE. (2013) Tuftsin signals through its receptor neuropilin-1 via the transforming growth factor beta pathway. J. Neurochem. 27(3):394-402
  • Bronstein, R.*, Torres, L.*, Nissen, JC.*, and Tsirka, SE. (2013) Culturing microglia from the neonatal and adult central nervous system. JoVE. 9;(78) *Equal contribution
  • Wu, M., Nissen, JC., Chen, EI., and Tsirka, SE. (2012). Tuftsin promotes an anti-inflammatory switch and attenuates symptoms in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis. PLoS One. 7(4):e34933