• Associate Professor
  • Director, MARC
  • Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
  • Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana 1981
  • Department of Biology
  • Temple University

Jacqueline Tanaka


Ion channels are the major conductive components of cells transferring information from an extracellular signal to the intracellular milieu, most typically, but in sensory cells like photoreceptors light information is translated into electrical signals via channels that monitor intracellular biochemical signals from photons. There are large families of ion channel genes activated by transmembrane voltage, chemical gradients, and the binding of small molecules. Inherited mutations in neuronal ion channels are responsible for many of the neurological and psychiatric conditions seen today. My research focuses on understanding the structure-function of cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) ion channels of the cone photoreceptors. We use electrophysiological patch clamp recording to monitor the CNG channel function in human embryonic kidney cells and we engineer mutations associated with complete colorblindness, achromatopsia, to correlate the role of a single amino acid in the channel with its function. We construct high-resolution models of the channel based on homologous structures. Most recently, we have developed a high through-put fluorescent assay to monitor calcium influx in cells expressing achromatopsia mutations to monitor channel regulation through IP3 signaling.

I have a long-standing commitment to educational diversity having worked with the Biophysical Society to promote the careers of women and under-represented scientists in their careers. In 2009, Temple was awarded an NIH Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Research Program (TU MARC U*STAR) which I direct. The program supports 16 qualified honor students interested in PhD or MD/PhD graduate programs in biomedically-related fields providing junior and senior students with financial assistance, research exposure and mentoring. Now in our 8th year of the program, we have students in top graduate programs in the US.