N. Jennifer Klinedinst, PhD, MPH, RN, FAHA
Co-Director, Biology and Behavior Across the Lifespan Research Center
Areas of Expertise:
As a nurse scientist, Dr. Klinedinst works as part of an interdisciplinary team to discover how various ‘OMICS’ (genetics, genomics, inflammatory markers, bioenergetics, and proteomics) in addition to psychosocial variables influence symptoms or health outcomes in adults with chronic disease. Her recent work has focused on using genomics, bioenergetics, and proteomics to predict the development of sepsis or organ failure in adults with severe traumatic brain injury. In addition, she uses proteomics to elucidate mechanisms of walking to alter pain sensitivity in adults with knee osteoarthritis and alterations in cellular energy metabolism (bioenergetics) as a mechanism for fatigue after a stroke.
The BIG Idea:
The purpose of my work ultimately is to inform personalized interventions for symptoms experienced in chronic disease. Without first understanding what the mechanism is behind the symptom experience, it is difficult to develop interventions to mitigate the symptom.
Why does the research matter?
Unpleasant symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or depression associated with chronic disease are patient’s biggest complaints and severely affect quality of life. Moreover, it is difficult to predict which patients will have poor outcomes such as sepsis or organ failure after a severe traumatic brain injury. However, while much medical research goes into trying to mitigate or cure chronic disease, very little is targeted toward understanding the symptoms or other associated outcomes that co-occur with having a chronic disease or condition.
Who does the research matter to?
This research matters to anyone living with chronic disease and burdensome symptoms. In particular those who have experienced stroke, brain injury, or live with osteoarthritis pain.
What are the clinical applications of the research?
This important work informs clinicians of potential underlying causes of symptoms and allows for the development of targeted treatments. The severe traumatic brain injury work will help clinician predict which patients are at risk for sepsis and organ failure and which biomarkers should be targeted so they can intervene early and prevent the sepsis or organ failure from happening. The walking and arthritis pain study helps to inform which patient with knee osteoarthritis should use walking as a way to mitigate pain and which patients walking may actually increase pain sensitivity. The post-stroke fatigue work gives clinicians and scientists a new avenue for treatment discovery for the fatigue experience after a stroke. This is especially important because there are currently no know treatments for post-stroke fatigue.