“In short, Amanda is a creative, multi-talented, passionate, personable young woman who is very smart, highly motivated, persistent, and preserving.” -Richard Smith, professor
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Faculty mentor/advisor: Richard Smith, MD, professor of otolaryngology, Carver College of Medicine
What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date? Immunology PhD program, spring 2025
Please describe your research: I research a severe kidney disease called C3 glomerulopathy, which is caused by overactivation of an immune pathway called the alternative pathway. Normally the alternative pathway helps fight off foreign invaders and clear damaged cells from the kidneys, however, overactivation can lead to kidney damage. Therefore, I study causes of overactivation of the alternative pathway in C3 glomerulopathy patients to identify underlying disease mechanisms.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? C3 glomerulopathy has a high morbidity—within 10 years of diagnosis, 50% of patients progress to end stage kidney failure—with no current treatment options available. A few clinical trials are underway targeting specific drivers of disease in ~60% of C3 glomerulopathy patients, however, in ~40% of C3 glomerulopathy patients, drivers of disease are unknown. Thus, I aim to identify novel drivers of disease in C3 glomerulopathy patients to provide potential therapeutic targets for treatment of disease.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to start research my first semester in the immunology PhD program.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research has been instrumental in my success at the University of Iowa by providing a deeper understanding of the immune system, innovate techniques, and the importance of rigor and reproducibility. Overall, research has cultivated my expertise in immunology topics and allowed opportunities for growth and achievement.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation, my plans involve entering the biomedical industry to apply and further develop the skills and knowledge I have gained at the University of Iowa. In industry, I aim to contribute to the advancement of the biomedical field and make a meaningful impact on human health.
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