Emily Steinbach

Emily Steinbach, Ph.D. student, Biomedical Sciences

Works to prevent kidney disease

“Emily’s research has suggested an investigational drug, currently in phase III trials for severe oral mucositis, can be repurposed for the both short- and long-term protection of cisplatin-induced kidney disease. In two separate retrospective analyses, she discovered that pediatric cancer survivors who received cisplatin will lose their kidney function 3-4 times faster than their age-matched peers, and that use of this investigational drug in adults lead to significantly better kidney function up to two years after cisplatin treatment.” – Lyndsay Harshman, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics-Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation

Hometown: Centerville, Iowa
Faculty mentor/advisors: Douglas Spitz, PhD and Lyndsay Harshman, MD
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Free Radical and Radiation Biology) with an expected graduation date of Spring 2022
Please describe your research: My research focusses on understanding the changes in redox metabolism in the development of chronic kidney disease in children. I specifically investigate the use of pharmaceuticals for the protection of superoxide-induced kidney damage. I am also interested in understanding how these changes in metabolism that lead to chronic kidney disease effect the neurocognition and brain development of children with kidney dysfunction.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Children with kidney disease face many challenges: medical complications, psychosocial problems, delayed language and motor development- the kidneys really do a lot for us! Discovering therapeutic interventions to protect or retain kidney function is critical for the growth of health children and is imperative for many children with congenital abnormalities, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I came to the University of Iowa from a small town in southern Iowa, so I did not feel ready to pursue research until the summer after my sophomore year of undergrad. I did, however, find a specialty I was incredibly interested in as a freshman and continued to shadow Pediatric Nephrologists (kidneys) to learn about kidney physiology before going into kidney research.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? I owe all my success to the amazing research environment God has given me here at the University of Iowa. The academic pursuit of research drives me to study and ask questions that ultimately can change the standard of care for many patients. This feeling of always being curious and having a “Pediatric Nephrology family” from research to support me has made me the person I am today.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation, I plan to do my post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Pediatric Nephrology. My long-term career goals include directing medical and scientific research communications and becoming the Chief Executive Officer of a pharmaceutical company.
Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain. My current research does not have any connections to COVID-19; however, in 2020, I was part of the original crew who worked around the clock to bring Iowa it’s 1st COVID-19 tests. My research background with human samples and sterile techniques became part of Test Iowa’s protocol to protect other researchers, physicians, and staff coming into contact with COVID-19 samples.

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