Jehnna received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard College and completed her Ph.D. in cancer biology at Stanford University in 2015. For her graduate research in Dr. Gerald Crabtree's laboratory, she investigated the developmental role of an essential protein that is also frequently mutated in cancer. Knowledge about the normal function of this protein will enable Jehnna and other scientists to understand how mutated versions cause human cancers, and whether molecular vulnerabilities can be exploited for cancer treatments.

During her graduate career, Jehnna discovered a love of teaching and course development. She has taught science-related lessons to elementary-age children and Stanford undergraduates, and has helped to develop courses in neuroscience, evolution, and stem cell biology. She is excited to continue teaching at Stanford with the Thinking Matters Program. In her free time, Jehnna enjoys cooking, exploring San Francisco by bicycle, and backpacking in the California wilderness.

Academic Appointments

  • Lecturer, Stanford Introductory Studies - Thinking Matters

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Stanford University, Cancer Biology (2015)


  • J. Christopher Love, Hiddle L. Ploegh, Jehnna L. Ronan. "United States Patent 7,776,553 Screening assays and methods", Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College, Sep 18, 2006

2017-18 Courses

All Publications

  • From neural development to cognition: unexpected roles for chromatin NATURE REVIEWS GENETICS Ronan, J. L., Wu, W., Crabtree, G. R. 2013; 14 (5): 347-359


    Recent genome-sequencing studies in human neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders have uncovered mutations in many chromatin regulators. These human genetic studies, along with studies in model organisms, are providing insight into chromatin regulatory mechanisms in neural development and how alterations to these mechanisms can cause cognitive deficits, such as intellectual disability. We discuss several implicated chromatin regulators, including BAF (also known as SWI/SNF) and CHD8 chromatin remodellers, HDAC4 and the Polycomb component EZH2. Interestingly, mutations in EZH2 and certain BAF complex components have roles in both neurodevelopmental disorders and cancer, and overlapping point mutations are suggesting functionally important residues and domains. We speculate on the contribution of these similar mutations to disparate disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nrg3413

    View details for Web of Science ID 000317732600012

    View details for PubMedID 23568486

  • esBAF facilitates pluripotency by conditioning the genome for LIF/STAT3 signalling and by regulating polycomb function NATURE CELL BIOLOGY Ho, L., Miller, E. L., Ronan, J. L., Ho, W. Q., Jothi, R., Crabtree, G. R. 2011; 13 (8): 903-U334


    Signalling by the cytokine LIF and its downstream transcription factor, STAT3, prevents differentiation of pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs). This contrasts with most cell types where STAT3 signalling induces differentiation. We find that STAT3 binding across the pluripotent genome is dependent on Brg1, the ATPase subunit of a specialized chromatin remodelling complex (esBAF) found in ESCs. Brg1 is required to establish chromatin accessibility at STAT3 binding targets, preparing these sites to respond to LIF signalling. Brg1 deletion leads to rapid polycomb (PcG) binding and H3K27me3-mediated silencing of many Brg1-activated targets genome wide, including the target genes of the LIF signalling pathway. Hence, one crucial role of Brg1 in ESCs involves its ability to potentiate LIF signalling by opposing PcG. Contrary to expectations, Brg1 also facilitates PcG function at classical PcG targets, including all four Hox loci, reinforcing their repression in ESCs. Therefore, esBAF does not simply antagonize PcG. Rather, the two chromatin regulators act both antagonistically and synergistically with the common goal of supporting pluripotency.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncb2285

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293373700008

    View details for PubMedID 21785422

  • An embryonic stem cell chromatin remodeling complex, esBAF, is essential for embryonic stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Ho, L., Ronan, J. L., Wu, J., Staahl, B. T., Chen, L., Kuo, A., Lessard, J., Nesvizhskii, A. I., Ranish, J., Crabtree, G. R. 2009; 106 (13): 5181-5186


    Mammalian SWI/SNF [also called BAF (Brg/Brahma-associated factors)] ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes are essential for formation of the totipotent and pluripotent cells of the early embryo. In addition, subunits of this complex have been recovered in screens for genes required for nuclear reprogramming in Xenopus and mouse embryonic stem cell (ES) morphology. However, the mechanism underlying the roles of these complexes is unclear. Here, we show that BAF complexes are required for the self-renewal and pluripotency of mouse ES cells but not for the proliferation of fibroblasts or other cells. Proteomic studies reveal that ES cells express distinctive complexes (esBAF) defined by the presence of Brg (Brahma-related gene), BAF155, and BAF60A, and the absence of Brm (Brahma), BAF170, and BAF60C. We show that this specialized subunit composition is required for ES cell maintenance and pluripotency. Our proteomic analysis also reveals that esBAF complexes interact directly with key regulators of pluripotency, suggesting that esBAF complexes are specialized to interact with ES cell-specific regulators, providing a potential explanation for the requirement of BAF complexes in pluripotency.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0812889106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000264790600042

    View details for PubMedID 19279220

  • An embryonic stem cell chromatin remodeling complex, esBAF, is an essential component of the core pluripotency transcriptional network PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Ho, L., Jothi, R., Ronan, J. L., Cui, K., Zhao, K., Crabtree, G. R. 2009; 106 (13): 5187-5191


    Distinctive SWI/SNF-like ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling esBAF complexes are indispensable for the maintenance and pluripotency of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells [Ho L, et al. (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 10.1073/pnas.0812889106]. To understand the mechanism underlying the roles of these complexes in ES cells, we performed high-resolution genome-wide mapping of the core ATPase subunit, Brg, using ChIP-Seq technology. We find that esBAF, as represented by Brg, binds to genes encoding components of the core ES transcriptional circuitry, including Polycomb group proteins. esBAF colocalizes extensively with transcription factors Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog genome-wide, and shows distinct functional interactions with Oct4 and Sox2 at its target genes. Surprisingly, no significant colocalization of esBAF with PRC2 complexes, represented by Suz12, is observed. Lastly, esBAF colocalizes with Stat3 and Smad1 genome-wide, consistent with a direct and critical role in LIF and BMP signaling for maintaining self-renewal. Taken together, our studies indicate that esBAF is an essential component of the core pluripotency transcriptional network, and might also be a critical component of the LIF and BMP signaling pathways essential for maintenance of self-renewal and pluripotency.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0812888106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000264790600043

    View details for PubMedID 19279218

  • Optimization of the surfaces used to capture antibodies from single hybridomas reduces the time required for microengraving JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGICAL METHODS Ronan, J. L., Story, C. M., Papa, E., Love, J. C. 2009; 340 (2): 164-169


    The most common method for the generation of monoclonal antibodies involves the identification and isolation of hybridomas from polyclonal populations. The discovery of new antibodies for biochemical and immunohistochemical assays in a rapid and efficient manner, however, remains a challenge. Here, a series of experiments are described that realize significant improvements to an approach for screening large numbers of single cells to identify antigen-specific monoclonal antibodies in a high-throughput manner (10(5)-10(6) cells in less than 12 h). The soft lithographic process called microengraving yields microarrays of monoclonal antibodies that can be correlated to individual hybridomas; the cells can then be retrieved and expanded to establish new cell lines. The factors examined here included the glass slide used for the microarray, the buffer used to deposit capture antibodies onto the glass, the type of polyclonal antibodies used to capture the secreted antibodies, and the time required for microengraving. Compared to earlier reports of this method, these studies resulted in increased signal-to-noise ratios for individual elements in the microarrays produced, and a considerable decrease in the time required to produce one microarray from a set of cells (from 2-4 h to 3-10 min). These technical advances will improve the throughput and reduce the costs for this alternative to traditional screening by limiting serial dilution.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jim.2008.10.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000262870100010

    View details for PubMedID 19028499

  • Profiling antibody responses by multiparametric analysis of primary B cells PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Story, C. M., Papa, E., Hu, C. A., Ronan, J. L., Herlihy, K., Ploegh, H. L., Love, J. C. 2008; 105 (46): 17902-17907


    Determining the efficacy of a vaccine generally relies on measuring neutralizing antibodies in sera. This measure cannot elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the development of immunological memory at the cellular level, however. Quantitative profiles that detail the cellular origin, extent, and diversity of the humoral (antibody-based) immune response would improve both the assessment and development of vaccines. Here, we describe a novel approach to collect multiparametric datasets that describe the specificity, isotype, and apparent affinity of the antibodies secreted from large numbers of individual primary B cells (approximately 10(3)-10(4)). The antibody/antigen binding curves obtained by this approach can be used to classify closely related populations of cells using algorithms for data clustering, and the relationships among populations can be visualized graphically using affinity heatmaps. The technique described was used to evaluate the diversity of antigen-specific antibody-secreting cells generated during an in vivo humoral response to a series of immunizations designed to mimic a multipart vaccination. Profiles correlating primary antibody-producing cells with the molecular characteristics of their secreted antibodies should facilitate both the evaluation of candidate vaccines and, broadly, studies on the repertoires of antibodies generated in response to infectious or autoimmune diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0805470105

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261225600061

    View details for PubMedID 19004776

  • A microengraving method for rapid selection of single cells producing antigen-specific antibodies NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY Love, J. C., Ronan, J. L., Grotenbreg, G. M., Van der Veen, A. G., Ploegh, H. L. 2006; 24 (6): 703-707


    Monoclonal antibodies that recognize specific antigens of interest are used as therapeutic agents and as tools for biomedical research. Discovering a single monoclonal antibody requires retrieval of an individual hybridoma from polyclonal mixtures of cells producing antibodies with a variety of specificities. The time required to isolate hybridomas by a limiting serial-dilution, however, has restricted the diversity and breadth of available antibodies. Here we present a soft lithographic method based on intaglio printing to generate microarrays comprising the secreted products of single cells. These engraved arrays enable a rapid (<12 h) and high-throughput (>100,000 individual cells) system for identification, recovery and clonal expansion of cells producing antigen-specific antibodies. This method can be adapted, in principle, to detect any secreted product in a multiplexed manner.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt1210

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238187300033

    View details for PubMedID 16699501