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Battelle Applied Genomics Today

Battelle Health & Analytics Newsletter

Featured Expert: Jennifer Plahovinsak: Principal Research Scientist and Study Director

Jennifer Plahovinsak Jennifer Plahovinsak

Jen Plahovinsak is the face of the Battelle Life Sciences Research Group for many of our clients. As a Principal Research Scientist and Study Director, she works with clients to understand their needs, evaluates study designs to ensure that those needs are being met, and communicates study results. Her leadership keeps toxicology projects on track and on target.

Jen joined Battelle in 2002 as a Technician Trainee at the Battelle Medical Research and Evaluation Facility (now known as the Battelle Biomedical Research Center) immediately after graduating with a B.S. in Animal Sciences from The Ohio State University. Her work inspired her to return for a Masters in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Wright State University. Over the years, she took on a variety of research roles for Battelle, including work as a Principal Investigator at the Battelle Hazardous Materials Research Center (HMRC), where she led technical teams in executing materials safety testing. As part of the materials group, she conducted permeation studies to test chemical decontamination efficacy and system-level testing for soldier protective equipment and ensembles. In 2008, she moved back to the Battelle Biomedical Research Center (BBRC) as a Toxicologist. In 2015, she received board certification as a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology, an internationally recognized credential in toxicology representative of competency and commitment to human health and environmental sciences.

In her current role, Jen is responsible for evaluating study designs for scientific soundness, interpreting and evaluating the data, and creating final reports for clients. A large part of her research has focused on safety and efficacy of medical countermeasures used for chemical warfare defense. This work has included the study of candidate countermeasures to be used in cases of exposure to nerve agents including sarin and soman, vesicating agents including sulfur and nitrogen mustard, and other deadly chemicals. Many of these studies are done under the FDA Animal Rule because they cannot be ethically done using human subjects. Her experience also includes work with biological agents such as anthrax, vaccine efficacy research and work focused on toxic industrial chemicals. Study protocols include inhalation toxicology, dermal exposures and parietal injection.

“I love what I do because I feel like I am making a difference in the world,” she says. “The work I do for chemical warfare defense could someday be critical in keeping our warfighters safe. I’ve done efficacy work on vaccines that my children may someday receive. I love to focus on projects that will have a positive impact for people.”

Jen expects to be doing more work with industrial chemicals in the future. “More chemicals are being formulated every day, and all of them will need toxicology studies completed before they can be used around people,” she explains.