Turner contributes to Huntington’s Disease research during fellowship

During a two-block Cornell Fellowship at the Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence and the University of Iowa, Jenny Turner gained valuable research experience while contributing to work that may lead to a better understanding of the disease.

Jenny Turner
Jenny Turner: "I feel that because I am at Cornell, I have professors who truly want the best for me and will help me achieve my goals."

Turner worked on a project studying possible underlying causes for the varying levels of cognitive decline observed in those afflicted with Huntington’s. She and her team, led by Dr. Kevin Duff, looked at three possible factors: gender, parental transmission, and CAG nucleotide repeat lengths on the fourth chromosome.

“The most interesting thing that we found was that female Huntington’s disease participants scored significantly higher on two cognitive exams than male participants did,” Turner says.  “This may suggest that male Huntington’s disease patients may decline cognitively faster than females with Huntington’s disease. However, there is also the possibility that all females would normally do better on those cognitive tests — not just HD patients.”

Turner found no evidence that the correlation had been researched before, and she’s hopeful that the report she helped write will eventually be published.

“One interesting thing I learned during my internship is how well Cornell has prepared me for the workplace,” she adds. “At my fellowship, I feel like I was able to get things accomplished very quickly. I think I have the fast pace of the block plan to thank for that.”

Turner is also grateful for close, mentoring relationships with professors like Sue Astley, who inspired her towards a major in psychology and encouraged her to pursue the fellowship, and Craig Tepper who has supported her during her challenging pre-med curriculum.

“I feel that because I am at Cornell, I have professors who truly want the best for me and will help me achieve my goals,” she says.

Turner plans to complete on honors thesis as a senior, studying the effects of priming on sex stereotyping. After Cornell, Turner says she’s considering graduate studies in psychology or medical school.