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Jennifer Rainville

Collegiate Assistant Professor
  • Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane University
Sandy Hall, Room 312
Virginia Tech
210 Drillfield Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

I first came to Virginia Tech in 2016 to work in the Hodes Lab in the School of Neuroscience. I received my PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Tulane University and my BA in Biology from St. Olaf College. Prior to obtaining my PhD, I was a middle school science teacher in New Orleans. My research interests are focused on neuroimmunology and cell biology.  However, my main priority is teaching, and I am excited to be involved in teaching multiple neuroscience courses. I am committed to providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully understand, communicate and participate in neuroscience, at all stages in their education.  I hope to share my love for neuroscience by helping all my students explore the connections between basic science and the behaving brain to realize the numerous opportunities a degree in neuroscience can bring them.

My graduate work at Tulane was focused on investigating the receptors and intracellular pathways involved in nonclassical signaling by estrogens in neurons of the hypothalamus.  I studied the rapid effects of steroid receptor activation on dendritic spine morphology in hypothalamic neurons following a bout of aggression in mice, to better understand how steroid hormones can affect behavior through non-genomic pathways. I transitioned into my postdoctoral training by expanding my focus to include the stress response, which is also regulated in part by the hypothalamus.  We were interested in understanding the cellular mechanisms of the rapid stress response, so we confirmed the presence of a glucocorticoid receptor in neurons by observing effects of a membrane-limited glucocorticoid on cytoplasmic receptor nuclear translocation and transcription.  I continued to explore effects of stress on behavior in the Hodes Lab at VT, where I have been examining the sex-differences in the immune response to stress as a mechanism of behavioral changes in depression and other mood disorders.  Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression, but we still don’t fully understand why.  We are currently working to identify the hormonal and genetic factors that contribute to susceptibility, with the ultimate goal of find a sex-specific immune target to treat symptoms of depression and provide a better understanding of the biological roots of increased female susceptibility to mood disorders.

  • Johnson, A., Rainville, J. R., Rivero-Ballon, G. N., Dhimitri, K., & Hodes, G. E. (2020). Testing the Limits of Sex Differences Using Variable Stress. Neuroscience.
  • Rainville, J. R., & Hodes, G. E. (2019). Inflaming sex differences in mood disorders. Neuropsychopharmacology, 44(1), 184–199.
  • Rainville, J. R., Weiss, G. L., Evanson, N., Herman, J. P., Vasudevan, N., & Tasker, J. G. (2019). Membrane-initiated nuclear traffickin g of the glucocorticoid receptor in hypothalamic neurons. Steroids, 142, 55–64.
  • Weiss, G. L., Rainville, J. R., Zhao, Q., & Tasker, G. (2019). Purity and stability of the membrane-limited glucocorticoid receptor agonist. Steroids, 142, 2–5.
  • Rainville, J. R., Tsyglakova, M., & Hodes, G. E. (2018). Deciphering sex differences in the immune system and depression. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 50(December 2017), 67–90.
  • Clark, S., Pollard, K., Rainville, J., & Vasudevan, N. (2016). Detection of the Phosphorylation of the Estrogen Receptor α as an Outcome of GPR30 Activation. Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1366, 457–470.
  • Rudolph, L. M., Cornil, C. A., Mittelman-Smith, M. A., Rainville, J. R., Remage-Healey, L., Sinchak, K., & Micevych, P. E. (2016). Actions of Steroids : New Neurotransmitters. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(45), 11449–11458.
  • Nahar, J., Rainville, J. R., Dohanich, G. P., & Tasker, J. G. (2016). Further evidence for a membrane receptor that binds glucocorticoids in the rodent hypothalamus. Steroids, 114, 33–40.
  • Tasker, J. G., Chen, C., Fisher, M. O., Fu, X., Rainville, J. R., & Weiss, G. L. (2015). Endocannabinoid Regulation of Neuroendocrine Systems. International Review of Neurobiology, 125, 163–201.
  • Rainville, J., Pollard, K., & Vasudevan, N. (2015). Membrane-Initiated Non-Genomic Signaling by Estrogens in the Hypothalamus: Cross-Talk with Glucocorticoids with Implications for Behavior. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 6(February), 1–19.
  • Clark, S., Rainville, J., Zhao, X., Katzenellenbogen, B. S., Pfaff, D., & Vasudevan, N. (2014). Estrogen receptor-mediated transcription involves the activation of multiple kinase pathways in neuroblastoma cells. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 139, 45–53.


For a full list of Dr. Rainville's publications, please visit Pubmed

  • NEUR 3044 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • NEUR 3554 Neuroscience Research and Practical Design
  • NEUR 3984 Evolutionary Neuroscience
  • NEUR 4034 Diseases of the Nervous System
  • NEUR 5074 Currents Topics in Neuroscience