Translational research to improve patients’ lives
Dr. Jamie Meegan, who graduated from Trine University in 2013, began her career studying chemistry and forensic science. She was the recipient of the Bateman Kolb Scholarship, Trine’s premier, full-tuition academic scholarship. She originally wanted to be a forensic pathologist, but after taking more laboratory classes and speaking with professors, she decided to drop forensic science to focus on chemistry research for graduate school.
Graduating from Trine with a chemistry degree, Meegan was accepted into a Medical Sciences Ph. D. program at the University of South Florida. During her time there, she developed a fascination for studying the microvascular endothelium, cells that line blood vessels. During graduate school, Meegan chose to study the interactions between different types of blood cells for her dissertation.
“My dissertation focused on the interactions between neutrophils (inflammatory, white blood cells) and endothelial cells (the cells that line blood vessels), and how these interactions can become dysregulated and cause damage to blood vessels during disease,” she said.
Meegan is enjoying her “postdoc” life after graduate school, enjoying the independence of working her own hours and the ability to study her own interests. She described graduate school as a “difficult, yet rewarding, experience.” During her time studying and researching, she developed greatly as a scientist and person.
“I developed many valuable skills including critical thinking, problem solving, time and project management, and oral and written communication,” she said. “Earning my Ph.D. has most certainly been my proudest accomplishment thus far.”
" Take advantage of your community at Trine to build interpersonal and professional skills with your peers and professors. "- Jamie Meegan
She currently works for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Bastarache and Dr. Lorraine Ware. The laboratory where she works focuses on how the lung becomes injured during critical illnesses. The ultimate goal for her research is to improve the lives of patients.
“Our laboratory in Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a collaborative and translational group, combining ‘bench’ science with clinical investigation,” she said. “This puts us in a unique position to make observations in patients that we can examine further in the laboratory, with the goal of developing therapies to take back to the hospital to improve patient lives.”
Meegan’s research has been published in scientific journals like Cardiovascular Research, Frontiers in Immunology, and the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Her current project at Vanderbilt, which is supported by a T32 Postdocotral Research Fellowship, is related to her graduate research. She researches microvascular endothelial cells and how they become injured during illness.
“Due to this injury, the vessels responsible for controlling the exchange of important gases and nutrients become leaky, leading to an inadequate environment for organ function,” she said. “In particular, I am researching how hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein), which is released from red blood cells into the bloodstream during inflammatory conditions, contributes to this process.”
Meegan encourages current Trine students to start setting goals early and learn to prioritize, in order to make decisions that align with their goals and values. But most of all, she encourages students to develop relationships.
“Take advantage of your community at Trine to build interpersonal and professional skills with your peers and professors,” she said. “Building a support system takes work, but is crucial to your health and success. Attending college is a privilege not everyone gets to experience. Enjoy yourself and never take it for granted.”
— By Jarod Davis, Communications ’20