Jenny L. Wilkerson, Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacodynamics
University of Florida
1345 Center Drive; Building JHMHSC, Room P1-31
P.O. Box 113195
Gainesville, FL 32611-3195
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacodynamics, College of Pharmacy
The examination of experimental preclinical compounds to produce analgesic effects, with diminished drug abuse liability, and dependence.
2013-2017: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Advisor: Dr. Aron Lichtman
2012: Ph.D. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (Biomedical Sciences) Department of Neurosciences. Advisor: Dr. Erin Milligan
2004: B.S. Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO (Cellular and Molecular Biology)
Current Research Focus
Drug misuse and dependence can devastate individuals, family, friends, public health, and society. Effective therapies for drug dependence must consider environmental, behavioral, and pharmacologic determinants responsible for drug misuse. My current research integrates principles of behavior and receptor theory to identify central nervous system mechanisms responsible for drug dependence. We also investigate novel pharmacological strategies that maximize therapeutic potential and minimize dependence and abuse liability. Our research incorporates a combination of behavioral and physiological approaches, receptor-selective ligands, and quantitative analyses of drug interactions.
My research has focused on cannabinoids (i.e., any drug that binds to cannabinoid receptors), which includes cannabis-derived tetrahydrocannabinols, numerous synthetic cannabinoids, and endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitters. Synthetic cannabinoids have been misused more recently under the guise of such brand names as Spice or K2. Endogenous cannabinoids are degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), and novel drug inhibitors of these enzymes have been identified. We are able to systematically compare the effects of these diverse cannabinoid drugs and evaluate underlying receptor mechanisms to understand dependence and therapeutic potential. Recently, I have found that inhibition of either MAGL or FAAH leads to enhanced opioid-induced reversal of pain related behaviors, without enhancement of other physiological properties related to either cannabinoid or opioid drug class.
Donvito, G.; Nass, S.; Wilkerson, J.L.; Curry, Z.A.; Sherman, L.; Kinsey, S.; and Lichtman, A.H. (2017). The Endogenous Cannabinoid System: A Budding Source of Targets for Treating Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain. Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 28857069
Wilkerson, J.L.; Ghosh, S.; Mustafa, M.A.; Abdullah, R.A.; Cabrera, R; Maldonado, R.L.; Cravatt, B.F.; and Lichtman, A.H. (2017) The Endocannabinoid Hydrolysis Inhibitor SA-57 Augments the Antinociceptive Effects of Morphine and Reduces Heroin Seeking Behavior in Mice. Neuropharmacology 114:156-167. PMID: 27890602
Bagdas, D.†; Wilkerson, J.L.†; Kulkarni, A.; Toma, W.; AlSharari, S.; Gul, Z.; Lichtman, A.; Papke, R.; Thakur, G.; and Damaj, M.I. (2016) The α7 nicotinic receptor dual allosteric agonist and positive allosteric modulator GAT107 reverses nociception in mouse models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Br J Pharmacol 173(16):2506-2520. PMID: 27243753
Wilkerson, J.L.; Ghosh, S.; Bagdas, D.; Mason, B.L.; Crowe, M.S.; Hsu, K.L.; Wise, L.E.; Kinsey, S.G.; Damaj, M.I.; Cravatt, B.F.; and Lichtman, A.H. (2016) Diacylglycerol lipase beta inhibition reverses nociceptive behavior in mouse models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Br J Pharmacol 173(10):1678-1692. PMID: 26915789
Wilkerson, J.L.; Niphakis, M.J.; Grim, T.W.; Mustafa, M.A.; Abdullah, R.A.; Dewey, W.L.; Akbarali, H.; Banks, M.L.; Wise, L.E.; Cravatt, B.F.; and Lichtman, A.H. (2016) Monoacylglycerol lipase inhibition produces opioid sparing effects in a mouse model of neuropathic pain. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 357(1):145-56. PMID: 26791602
Wilkerson, J.L.; Gentry, K.R.; Dengler, E.C.; Wallace, J.A.; Kerwin, A.A.; Kuhn, M.N.; Alberti, L.B.; Armijo, L.M.; Thakur, G.A.; Makriyannis, A.; Milligan, E.D. (2012) Intrathecal cannabilactone CB2R agonist, AM1710, controls pathological pain and restores basal cytokines. Pain 153: 1091-1106. PMID: 22425445