Jen Pan is the assistant director of neurobiology for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute. She focuses on understanding the biological underpinnings of psychiatric disorders in order to find next-generation therapeutics to treat them. She has expertise in voltage-gated ion channels, part of the large protein family critical to neurons firing and muscles moving.
Before joining the Broad in 2007, Pan studied voltage-gated calcium and sodium channels and the specific roles they play in neuropathic pain, which brings suffering to people who still feel their phantom limbs and also afflicts dying cancer patients. In her role within the Stanley Center, Pan brings her expertise in neurobiology to other seemingly intractable illnesses, including bipolar disorder.
Pan has investigated why the standby treatment lithium, used for more than 60 years to treat bipolar disorder, works well in some people but not at all in others. Her team has shed light on the biochemical pathways involved in bipolar disease and pointed the way toward enhancing lithium’s efficacy with new compounds.
Pan received a bachelor’s degree in organic chemistry from Nanjing University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brown University.