Jessica Lerch, PhD
Assistant Professor
OSU Wexner Medical Center
Department of Neuroscience
The Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair
696 Biomedical Research Tower
460 W. 12th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210
614-688-1599 Office

Lerch Lab
650 Biomedical Research Tower
460 W. 12th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210

Lerch Lab

LerchLabGroupImageRTFStudying the transcriptional mechanisms governing sensory neuron axon growth and function

The Lerch Lab at Ohio State is devoted to understanding how injury and physiological changes such as stress can alter gene expression and the overall transcriptional landscape in sensory neurons to change behavior (e.g. pain). Long-term goals are to determine the molecular targets of the glucocorticoid receptor in sensory neurons and determine how this regulation changes in times of stress and/or injury.

Our Team

Our leaders


Jessica Lerch, PhD

Principal Investigator; Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Dr. Lerch received her PhD in Neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University working in the laboratory of Dr. Evan Deneris studying transcriptional control of serotonin neuron development. She was a post-doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Drs. Vance Lemmon and John Bixby in the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami. Dr. Lerch joined the Department of Neuroscience faculty at Ohio State in November 2012 and become an Assistant Professor in 2015.

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Tam Quach, PhD

Visiting Scholar

Kathryn Madalena, BS

Graduate Student

Naima Hashi

Undergraduate Researcher

Ash Zawerton

Undergraduate Researcher

Akhil Dhamija

Undergraduate Researcher

Harry Taylor

Undergraduate Researcher

Current Projects

Current Projects

Current Projects

The Lerch laboratory uses gene expression analysis (e.g., RNA-Seq, qPCR, in situ hybridization), peripheral axonal injury models, pain behavioral assays, viral transduction, transgenic mouse models, immunohistochemistry, high content analysis and light-sheet ultramicroscopy in these projects:
  1. Examination of the effects of prolonged and acute glucocorticoid elevation on nerve-injury associated pain and sensory neuron axonal growth
  2. Examination of global sensory neuron gene expression patterns after spinal cord and peripheral nerve injury and determining how these changes contribute to nerve-injury induced pain


Recent Publications

Madalena K, Lerch JK. Glucocorticoids and nervous system plasticity. Neural Regeneration Research, 2015, accepted.

JN Dulin, A Antunes-Martins, V Chandran, M Costigan, JK Lerch, DE Willis, MH Tuszynski. Transcriptomic approaches to neural repair. Journal of Neuroscience. 2015; 35:13860-13867.

Simpson MT, Venkatesh I, Callif BL, Thiel LK, Coley DM, Winsor KN, Wang Z, Kramer AA, Lerch JK, Blackmore MG. The tumor suppressor HHEX inhibits axon growth when prematurely expressed in developing central nervous system neurons. Molecular and cellular neurosciences. 2015; 68:272-83. Pubmed PMID: 26306672.

Lerch JK, Puga DA, Bloom O, Popovich PG. Glucocorticoids and macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) are neuroendocrine modulators of inflammation and neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury. Seminars in immunology. 2014; PubMed PMID: 24768088.

Lerch JK, Martínez-Ondaro YR, Bixby JL, Lemmon VP. cJun promotes CNS axon growth. Molecular and cellular neurosciences. 2014; 59:97-105. PubMed PMID: 24521823; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4008678.

Raju HB, Englander Z, Capobianco E, Tsinoremas NF, Lerch JK. Identification of potential therapeutic targets in a model of neuropathic pain. Frontiers in genetics. 2014; 5:131. PubMed PMID: 24904634; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4033210.

Lerch JK, Bixby JL, Lemmon VP. Isoform diversity and its importance for axon regeneration. Neuropathology: official journal of the Japanese Society of Neuropathology. 2012; 32(4):420-31. PubMed PMID: 22151581; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3309121.

Blackmore MG, Wang Z, Lerch JK, Motti D, Zhang YP, Shields CB, Lee JK, Goldberg JL, Lemmon VP, Bixby JL. Krüppel-like Factor 7 engineered for transcriptional activation promotes axon regeneration in the adult corticospinal tract. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012; 109(19):7517-22. PubMed PMID: 22529377; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3358880.

Lerch JK, Kuo F, Motti D, Morris R, Bixby JL, Lemmon VP. Isoform diversity and regulation in peripheral and central neurons revealed through RNA-Seq. PloS one. 2012; 7(1):e30417. PubMed PMID: 22272348; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3260295.

Smith RP, Lerch-Haner JK, Pardinas JR, Buchser WJ, Bixby JL, Lemmon VP. Transcriptional profiling of intrinsic PNS factors in the postnatal mouse. Molecular and cellular neurosciences. 2011; 46(1):32-44. PubMed PMID: 20696251; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3003944.

Lerch-Haner JK, Frierson D, Crawford LK, Beck SG, Deneris ES. Serotonergic transcriptional programming determines maternal behavior and offspring survival. Nature neuroscience. 2008; 11(9):1001-3. PubMed PMID: 19160496; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2679641.

Scott MM, Wylie CJ, Lerch JK, Murphy R, Lobur K, Herlitze S, Jiang W, Conlon RA, Strowbridge BW, Deneris ES. A genetic approach to access serotonin neurons for in vivo and in vitro studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2005; 102(45):16472-7. PubMed PMID: 16251278; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1283423.

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