Jennifer C. Kasemeier Associate Research Professor

Jennifer C. Kasemeier

Research Interests:

I am passionate about developmental neurobiology and neural crest related cancers, melanoma and neuroblastoma. Since my NSF-predoctoral fellowship inter-disciplinary training, I have been interested in how the embryo regulates the plasticity and invasiveness of cells to properly differentiate and reach precise peripheral targets. Information about neural crest biology is not only important for normal tissue and organogenesis, but also for disease progression, since two of the most aggressive cancers are neural crest-related.

Over the last several years, I have been involved in developing and/or optimizing techniques to study the mechanisms behind neural crest migration in vivo, from molecular profiling to high resolution imaging. My expertise includes in ovo manipulations, including electroporation and tissue transplantation, as well as static and time-lapse confocal and two-photon imaging. Furthermore, through collaboration with a cancer biology laboratory, I have been able to gain experience in how the embryonic neural crest microenvironment may reprogram the metastatic ability of melanoma.

My current interest is to build on this background in development and cancer to examine the role of signaling events during normal sympathetic nervous system development and how mistakes in these signals may lead to neuroblastoma onset and progression. I have recently discovered signals (chemokines, TrkB/BDNF) that direct the plasticity and invasiveness of trunk neural crest cells to pattern the primary and secondary sympathetic ganglia, respectively. I am excited to now explore the functional role of TrkB signals in sympathetic nervous system development and to study the potential for TrkB signaling to regulate the neuroblast to neuroblastoma transition.


  • Associate Research Professor, Department of Biological Science, University of Notre Dame IN. 2023-Present
  • Senior Research Specialist, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri. 2018-2023
  • Research Specialist II, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri. 2015-2017
  • Research Specialist I, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri. 2009-2014


  • Ph.D., Neuroscience. Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 2005
  • B.S., Chemistry. St. Martin’s University, Olympia, Washington 2001

Selected Professional Activities:

  • Open Biology (2018), First Person Interview
  • Graduate Research Scholar, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), National Science Foundation
  • Father Bede Chemistry Scholar, Saint Martin’s University

Recent Papers:

  • Kasemeier-Kulesa JC, Morrison JA, McKinney S, Li H, Gogol M, Hall K, Chen S, Wang Y, Perera A, McLennan R, Kulesa PM. (2023). Cell-type profiling of the sympathetic nervous system using spatial transcriptomics and spatial mapping of mRNA. Dev Dyn. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.577
  • Kasemeier-Kulesa JC, Spengler JA, Muolo CE, Morrison JA, Woollet TE, Schnell S, Kulesa PM. (2021). The embryonic trunk neural crest microenvironment regulates the plasticity and invasion of human neuroblastoma via TrkB signaling. Dev Biol. 480:78-90.
  • Kasemeier-Kulesa JC, Schnell S, Woolley T, Spengler JA, Morrison JA, McKinney MC, Pushel I, Wolfe LA, Kulesa PM (2018). Predicting neuroblastoma using developmental signals and a logic-based model. Biophys Chem. Jul; 238: 30-38. Featured in Science Daily 6 July, 2018.
  • Kasemeier-Kulesa, JC, and Kulesa, PM (2018). The convergent roles of CD271/p75 in neural crest-derived melanoma plasticity. Dev. Biol. 1606(18).
  • Kasemeier-Kulesa JC, Romine MH, Morrison JA, Bailey CM, Welch DR, and Kulesa PM. (2018). NGF reprograms metastatic melanoma to a bipotent glial-melanocyte neural crest-like precursor. Biol Open 7(11).
  •  Kasemeier-Kulesa JC, Lefcort F, Kulesa PM. (2015). TrkB/BDNF signalling patterns the sympathetic nervous system. Nat Commun. 6: 8281.