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Dr. Jens Coorssen

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Associate Member

B.Sc. (Brock University), M.Sc. (Brock University), Ph.D. (McMaster University), Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Max Planck Institute for Medical Research), Post-Doctoral Fellowship (National Institute of Child Health & Human Development)
Professor and Department Head, Molecular Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney
Head, University of Western Sydney Molecular Medicine Research Group
Adjunct Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary

Research Interests

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Dr. Coorssen works in the areas of basic, clinical, and translational research. His research focuses on proteomics and lipidomics — the analysis of proteins and lipids, including their distribution, structure, and function. His basic research focus is on exocytosis, which is the process of a cell releasing proteins into the fluid outside the cell. In particular, he examines the how calcium is involved as a trigger. He also studies the related process of membrane fusion, and the specific roles of the molecules involved. Dr. Coorssen also researches stroke and the cardiovascular dysfunctions which contribute to their occurrence.

Dr. Coorssen is the Department Head of Molecular Physiology at the University of Western Sydney. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary, an Associate Member at ICORD, and the Head of the University of Western Sydney Molecular Medicine Research Group. Dr. Coorssen obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Brock University. He received his Ph.D. from McMaster University and completed Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

His work translates to functional improvements after SCI by identifying targets for therapy and by helping to identify markers for diagnosis and prognosis.

Dr. Coorssen enjoys working with ICORD because of its outstanding collection of scientists who all come together to work as a team. This is the basis for the best possible science.

In 2005, Dr. Coorssen’s eldest son was struck by an SUV just before his tenth birthday. His original prognosis was extremely dire, but today he is in a regular classroom and walks with braces. Dr. Coorssen says his son has pushed his efforts “to work toward the best possible spine and brain injury research. He’s my inspiration.”

Recent Collaborations:

Dr. Coorssen has collaborated with Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff, Dr. Tom Grigliatti, and other members of the ICORD team to identify biomarkers which indicate the severity of SCI.

He has also worked with Drs. Tatiana Rogasevskaia (Mount Royal University, Alberta) and A.J. Mercier (Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University) on the molecular mechanisms underlying calcium-triggered fast membrane fusion, and the roles of cholesterol in this process.

Major Findings:

Calcium is known to trigger the membrane fusion which is the defining step of exocytosis, but how this mechanism works is poorly understood. Dr. Coorssen has worked to identify both the proteins and lipids that regulate sensitivity to calcium and therefore control the triggered response.

Dr. Coorssen examined how chemicals which bind with or modify cholesterol in membranes alter the process of membrane fusion and the function of synapses. He found that the chemical MβCD can affect events in the cells on both sides of the synapse, but not all of these effects are related to changes in cholesterol levels. He has also shown that disruptions in the level of cholesterol in membranes inhibit membrane fusion. In fact, Dr. Coorssen and his colleagues were the first to directly identify cholesterol and other lipids as components of the fusion mechanism. This indicates that these or related molecules may be useful for improving the efficiency of fusion.

In his lab, Dr. Coorssen continues to improve and optimize the proteomic and lipidomic techniques which are critical to this range of research. This continues to yield analyses of higher sensitivity, which will further increase the understanding of key molecular mechanisms.

Techniques employed in the lab:

  • Confocal Microscopy
  • Lipidomics
  • Proteomics
  • Quantitative Mechanistic Assay
  • Rapid freeze, free substitution microscopy

Affiliation with organizations and societies:

  • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
  • Biophysical Society
  • Human Proteome Organization (HUPO)
  • International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SfN)

Current Lab Members

Ph.D. Students Post-Doctoral Fellows
Perry Abbineni Dr. Elise Wright
Victoria Gauci

Current Opportunities in the Lab

Yes, Dr. Coorssen is looking for a post-doctoral fellow to work on phosphoproteins. Please contact Dr. Coorssen with inquiries.

Recent publications

  • Noaman, N, Abbineni, PS, Withers, M, Coorssen, JR. 2017. Coomassie staining provides routine (sub)femtomole in-gel detection of intact proteoforms: Expanding opportunities for genuine Top-down Proteomics.. Electrophoresis. doi: 10.1002/elps.201700190.
  • D'Silva, AM, Hyett, JA, Coorssen, JR. 2017. A Routine 'Top-Down' Approach to Analysis of the Human Serum Proteome.. Proteomes. doi: 10.3390/proteomes5020013.
  • Ormerod, KG et al.. 2017. Drosophila development, physiology, behavior, and lifespan are influenced by altered dietary composition.. Fly (Austin). doi: 10.1080/19336934.2017.1304331.
  • Dabral, D, Coorssen, JR. 2017. Phospholipase A2: Potential roles in native membrane fusion.. Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2017.01.011.
  • Stroud, LJ et al.. 2017. Comparative proteomic analysis of two pathogenic Tritrichomonas foetus genotypes: there is more to the proteome than meets the eye.. Int. J. Parasitol. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.11.004.
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