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James Van Brocklyn

James Van Brocklyn, portrait in office
Assistant Professor of Instruction
Irvine 185


Ph.D., Ohio State University

Research & Teaching Interests

My research interests include signal transduction mechanisms mediated by sphingolipids and the roles they play in cancer. As a graduate student I investigated the role of gangliosides, sialic acid-containing glycosphingolipids, in the brain tumors. Expression of certain types of gangliosides correlates with the malignancy of some brain tumors. I showed that gangliosides regulate the activity of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. Thus changes in ganglioside expression can cause more aggressive growth brain tumors.

In my postdoctoral and subsequent work, I focused on the bioactive sphingolipid metabolite sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). We found that this lipid signals through a family of G protein-coupled receptors to regulate multiple biological processes including cell proliferation, motility and survival. We also found that high expression levels of the enzyme that forms S1P correlate with more malignant behavior of the brain tumor glioblastoma through enhancing these same biological processes.

In recent years I have focused on teaching. I previously taught several lectures at the graduate level on lipid biochemistry, signal transduction and cancer, as well as a graduate level molecular biology techniques laboratory. Recently my focus has turned to undergraduate introductory biology teaching. In addition to teaching first-year biological sciences lecture and laboratory classes, I have attempted to better coordinate the first year learning experience through redesign of worksheets for the discussion-based PLTL and laboratories paired with the introductory lecture classes.

Courses Taught

  • BIOS 1700 – Biological Sciences I
  • BIOS 1030 – Human Biology
  • BIOS 1705 – Laboratory for Biological Sciences I
  • BIOS 1715 – Laboratory for Biological Sciences II
  • BIOS 1100 – Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) for Biological Sciences I

Selected Publications

Van Brocklyn, J., Bremer, E. G., and Yates, A. J. (1993) Gangliosides inhibit platelet-derived growth factor-stimulated receptor dimerization in human glioma U-1242 MG and Swiss 3T3 cells. J. Neurochem. 61, 371-374.

Lee, M.-J., Van Brocklyn, J. R., Thangada, S., Liu, C. H., Hand, A. R., Menzeleev, R., Spiegel, S., and Hla, T. (1998) Sphingosine-1-phosphate as a ligand for the G protein-coupled receptor EDG-1. Science. 279, 1552-1555.

Van Brocklyn, J. R., Lee, M. J., Menzeleev, R., Olivera, A., Edsall, L., Cuvillier, O., Dianne, M. T., Coopman, P. J. P., Thangada, S., Hla , T., and Spiegel, S. (1998) Dual actions of sphingosine-1-phosphate: extracellular through the Gi-coupled orphan receptor Edg-1 and intracellular to regulate proliferation and survival. J. Cell Biol. 142, 229-240.

Van Brocklyn J.R., Jackson C.A., Pearl D.K., Kotur M.S., Snyder P.J., and Prior T.W. (2005) Sphingosine kinase-1 expression correlates with poor survival of patients with glioblastoma multiforme. Roles of sphingosine kinase isoforms in growth of glioblastoma cell lines. J. Neuropathol. Exp. Neurol. 64, 695-705.

Van Brocklyn, J.R. Lipids in neural tumors. Vol. 8, Chapter 21 [PDF]. in Handbook of Neurochemistry and Molecular Neurobiology, 3rd Edition. A. Lajtha, Editor. 2009, Springer-Verlag: Heidelberg, Germany.