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DIR Researcher Profile: Dr. Jessica M. Gill

Jessica M. Gill, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Jessica GillActing Scientific Director
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar
Tissue Injury Branch
Division of Intramural Research
Building 10-CRC, Room 2-1339
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814

Research Topics

Dr. Gill’s novel findings demonstrate the mechanisms underlying neurological symptoms and deficits in military personnel with TBIs, as well as athletes with concussions. Her research laboratory uses leading edge technology to identify and link omic biomarkers to neuronal damage through brain imaging methods that are unique to the NIH. Her line of research will prove enduring as she continues to develop methods for identifying brain injured patients who are at risk for a poor recovery and her discoveries are providing the foundation for early interventions to prevent the often irreversible symptoms resulting from post-TBI neurological damage.

Research Protocols
14-NR-0032 An Investigation of the Biological and Neuronal Mechanisms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Post-Concussive Syndrome Onset Following a Traumatic Brain Injury 


Dr. Jessica Gill’s interest in research began during her nursing undergraduate (B.S.N.) career, during which she volunteered with women and children whose lives were negatively affected by violence. She observed that this extreme stress resulted in differing outcomes with some women being substantially impaired, whereas others were able to recover. She questioned the mechanisms underlying these divergent responses to extreme stress. This line of questioning led her to pursue a graduate degree (M.S.) from Oregon Health and Science University in psychiatric nursing, which included clinical training in the PTSD program at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Research questions about trauma and resiliency were amplified during her work with Vietnam veterans who remained impacted by their combat service decades after returning home. Based on these volunteer and clinical experiences, she decided to pursue a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing. Her dissertation research demonstrated the presence of high rates of PTSD in urban health care seeking women, and that a PTSD diagnosis was associated with perceived health declines as well as with higher concentrations of inflammatory markers and a dysregulation of endocrine functioning.

Following completion of her Ph.D., she obtained a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) to better understand the biological mechanisms of PTSD and depression, finding central and peripheral alterations in the in-vivo functioning of both immune and endocrine systems. This line of research also led her to become a Clinical Investigator in the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM). She also is involved in leading national biomarker studies in athletes, military personnel and civilians. In these positions, she advises in the design and implementation of biomarker studies to ultimately improve the care of individuals with concussions and TBIs.

Selected Publications

  1. Gill, J., Merchant-Borna, K., Jeromin, A., Livingston, W. Bazarain, J. Acute plasma tau relates to prolonged return to play after concussion (2017). Neurology, Feb 7;88(6):595-602. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003587.Featured in Science, January, 2017

  2. Young, C., Martin, C., Kim, H., Motamedi, V., Cashion, A., Yun, S., Myseliwiec, V., Osier, N., Lee, H., Wang, D., Gill, J. (2017) Altered DNA Methylation Patterns Associated With Clinically Relevant Increases in PTSD symptoms and PTSD Symptom Profiles in Military Personnel." Biological Research for Nursing, Online Release, October

  3. Gill, J., Motamedi, V., Osier, N., Dell, K., Arcurio, L., Carr, W., Walker, P., Ahlers, S., LoPresti, M., Yarnell, A. (2017) Moderate blast exposure results in increased IL-6 and TNFα in peripheral blood. Brain Behavior Immunity, Feb, 2017pii: S0889-1591(17)30057-0. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2017.02.015

  4. Olivera, A., Lejbman, N., Jeromin, A., French, L., Kim, H., Cashion, A., Mysleweic, V., Diaz-Arrastia, R., Gill J. (2015). Peripheral total tau in military personnel who sustain traumatic brain injuries during deployment . JAMA Neurology, Oct 1;72(10):1109-16. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.1383.

  5. Gill, J. Cashion, A., Osier, N., Arcurio, L. Motamedi, V., Dell, K. Carr, W.,  Kim, H., Yun, S., Walker, P.,  Ahlers, S., LoPresti, M., Yarnell, a. (2017). Moderate blast exposure alters gene expression and levels of amyloid precursor protein. Neurology Genetics, Online Release October 1. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000186. eCollection 2017 Oct.

  6. Cho, YE., Latour, L., Kim, H., Turtzo, L. C., Olivera, A., Livingston, W. S., Wang, D., Martin, C., Lai, C., Cashion, A., Gill, J. (2016). Older Age Results in Differential Gene Expression after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Is Linked to Imaging Differences at Acute Follow-up. Front Aging Neurosci. 2016 Jul 13;8:168. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00168. eCollection 2016.

  7. Devoto, C., Arcurio, L., Fetta J., Ley, M., Rodney, T., Kanefsky, R., Gill, J. (2017). Inflammation Relates to Chronic Behavioral and Neurological Symptoms in Military with Traumatic Brain Injuries. Cell Transplant. 2016 Oct 12. doi: 10.3727/096368916X693455.

  8. Guardado, P., Rusch, H., Olivera, A., Livingston, W., Kim, H., Roy, M., Gill, J. (2016). Altered Gene Expression of the Innate Immune, Neuroendocrine, and Nuclear Factor-Kappa B (NF-kB) Systems is Associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel (2016). Journal of Anxiety Disorder, Online release January, 10.1016/j.janxdis.2015.12.0

  9. Gill, J. Borna-Merchant, K., Lee, H., Livingston, L., Olivera, A., Kim, H., Wag, D. Bazarian, J. (2015). Sports-Related Concussion Results in Differential Expression of Inflammatory Genes in Peripheral Blood during the Acute and Sub-Acute Period. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00168.

  10. Heinzelmann, M., Reddy, S., French, L., Wang, D., Lee, H., Barr, T., Baxter, T., Mysliwiec, V., Gill, J. (2014). Military personnel with chronic symptoms following blast traumatic brain injury have differential expression of neuronal recovery and epidermal growth factor receptor genes. Frontiers in Neurology. Oct 9;5:198. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00198.

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