I am a 2003 PhD graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, where, in 2009 Nobel Laureate Carol Greider's lab, I used yeast genetics to study the initiation of genome instability in response to shortening of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes, a process with implications for cancer initiation. For this work, I received a Weintraub Award from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, an award conferred on about a dozen graduate students in the world each year, and a Young Investigator's Award from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2003. I then undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in 2015 Laskar Award recipient Steve Elledge's lab where I was part of a team that developed RNA interference libraries for mammalian genetic screens.
My expertise is in genetics and molecular biology, especially cancer, genome maintenance, and genetic engineering. Like other students in the Human Genetics graduate program at the time, I took most of the Johns Hopkins medical school lecture coursework, including Pathology and Pathophysiology. However, passing these courses certainly does not make me a medical expert. Likewise, my formal training in neuroscience is limited and I should by no means be cited as an expert in anything related to the nervous system. I played a small role on the large team that discovered that the gene for the tau protein is mutated in patients with frontotemporal dementia when I had an internship for two summers in the lab of Mike Hutton and John Hardy when I was in college. I learned a little about nervous system research at that time, but I hadn't had any reason to significantly update my knowledge in the field since 1998. However, despite the limitations of my training in neuroscience, I'm doing my best to apply my skills as a scientist to find and analyze research that is relevant to understanding sensitivity to LED lights and screens. I encourage readers to look for themselves at the survey data and to read references collected on this website and elsewhere.
This survey and website were created not only because I have experienced flicker-sensitivity myself since 2018, but also because I saw an urgent unmet need to better support others who are affected. While I would have greatly preferred anonymity, I decided to sign my name, hoping that my reputation as a scientist would make it more likely that readers might take this issue seriously.
However, I have also created this work while experiencing months-long, persistent LED flicker-triggered symptoms that limit the time that I can do any kind of computer work and that may still be impacting my short-term memory and concentration to some degree, although the most severe and noticeable period of short-term memory impairment passed a few months ago. I worry that this may lead to unintended errors or omissions - I encourage readers to contact me if I have missed or misrepresented anything in the literature so that I can make corrections. I also apologize for typos and for the fact that the site isn't as polished-looking as one might hope. Because doing otherwise will restart my flicker-associated neurological symptoms, I have to limit my screen time as much as possible, especially activities with a lot of flicker. Therefore, in addition to forgoing creating better graphics, I'm choosing to limit on-screen proofreading because scrolling creates too much flicker, especially in this Google Sites website editor where buttons around the text editor window visibly flicker upon scrolling. After the site was published and I was able to print the content, I did my best to proofread further.
Although I am currently employed by a major science research institution, I work in genetics education and science outreach and have no role in the research branch of the institution. I created the work on this site in my own time, without any supporting funding, and without any involvement from my employer. The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer. I did not receive any compensation for this work, and I have no competing or related interests to disclose, other than that I have a personal interest in finding relief from environmental light flicker.
Jennifer Hackett, PhD
Jennifer A. Hackett, Molecular Biology: Concepts for Inquiry, textbook written 2011-2012 and self-published with supporting curricula on Amazon.com, 2018.
Michael R. Schlabach, Ji Luo, Guang Hu, Nicole L. Solimini, Qikai Xu, Mamie Z. Li, Zhenming Zhao, Agata Smogorzewska, Mathew E. Sow, Xiaolu, L. Ang, Thomas F. Westbrook, Anthony C. Liang, Kenneth Chang, Jennifer A. Hackett, J. Wade Harper, Gregory J. Hannon, and Stephen J. Elledge. Cancer proliferation gene discovery through functional genomics. Science. 2008; 319: 620-624.
Jennifer A. Hackett and Carol W. Greider. End resection initiates genomic instability in the absence of telomerase. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 2003; 23: 8450-61.
David M. Feldser, Jennifer A. Hackett and Carol W. Greider. Opinion: Telomere dysfunction and the initiation of genome instability. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2003; 3: 623-627.
Jennifer A. Hackett and Carol W. Greider. Balancing instability: dual roles for telomerase and telomere dysfunction in tumorigenesis. Oncogene. 2002; 21: 619-626.
Jennifer A. Hackett, David M. Feldser and Carol W. Greider. Telomere dysfunction increases mutation rate and genomic instability. Cell. 2001; 106: 275-286.
Michael T. Hemann, Jennifer Hackett, Arne IJpma and Carol W. Greider. Telomere length, telomere-binding proteins, and DNA damage signaling. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology. 2000; LXV:275-279.
Parimala Nacharaju, Jada Lewis, Colin Easson, Samuel Yen, Jennifer Hackett, Mike Hutton and Shu-Hui Yen. Accelerated filament formation from tau protein with specific FTDP-17 missense mutations. FEBS Letters. 1999; 447:195-9.
Mike Hutton, Corinne L. Lendon, Patrizia Rizzu, Matt Baker, Susanne Froelich, Henry Houlden, Stuart Pickering-Brown, Sumi Chakraverty, Adrian Isaacs, Andrew Grover, Jennifer Hackett, Jennifer Adamson, Sarah Lincoln, Dennis Dickson, Peter Davies, Ronald C. Petersen, Martijn Stevens, Esther de Graaff, Erwin Wauters, Jeltje van Baren, Marcel Hillebrand, Marijke Joosse, Jennifer M. Kwon, Petra Nowotny, Lien Kuei Che, Joanne Norton, John C. Morris, Lee A. Reed, John Trojanowski, Hans Basun, Lars Lannfelt, Michael Neystat, Stanley Fahn, Francis Dark, Tony Tannenberg, Peter R. Dodd, Nick Hayward, John B. J. Kwok, Peter R. Schofield, Athena Andreadis, Julie Snowden, David Craufurd, David Neary, Frank Owen, Ben A. Oostra, John Hardy, Alison Goate, John van Swieten, David Mann, Timothy Lynch & Peter Heutink . Association of missense and 5'-splice-site mutations in tau with the inherited dementia FTDP-17. Nature. 1998; 393: 702-5.
The Harold Weintraub Graduate Student Award, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 2003
The Nupur Dinesh Thekdi Young Investigator Research Award, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2003
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 1998
The Albert E. Reynolds Prize in Biology, DePauw University, 1998