I grew up in central Kansas and obtained my undergraduate degree in Biology from Kansas State University, followed by medical school at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. I then moved to Pittsburgh, PA, where I completed a residency in Pediatrics and fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
My introduction to research was during a summer research training program as a medical student, where I studied antioxidant therapy in a preclinical model of chronic fetal hypoxemia in the lab of Dr. Carl Weiner. As I progressed through my clinical training, my interest in neurocritical care grew and I knew this was a patient population on which I wanted to focus my career. I continued research during my residency, working with Dr. Dennis Simon in the lab of Dr. Robert Clark on secondary injury and neuroinflammation after pediatric severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) via the inflammasome pathway. During fellowship, I continued preclinical research in the area of pediatric severe TBI with a focus on cerebral edema under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Kochanek. My work focused on cerebral edema mediated by aquaporin-4; as we followed the results of our studies, this moved to the area of post-cardiac arrest cerebral edema. With this transition, my mentorship team grew to include Dr. Mioara Manole, and I was awarded an NIH T32 postdoctoral scholarship in Pediatric Neurointensive Care and Resuscitation at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, where I chose to continue pursuing this area of interest. I earned the 2018 Society of Critical Care Medicine In-Training Award for my work published in this issue of Pediatric Research1.
Following the completion of my postdoctoral work, I moved back home to become an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and work as a Pediatric Intensivist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. I am working to help create a multidisciplinary Neurocritical Care workgroup, as well as participating in multisite collaborative research while preparing to translate my research interests to the clinical realm.
My advice to trainees is to find what you are passionate about and follow it, to keep asking questions, and that good mentorship is key to success.
Wallisch, J. S. et al. The aquaporin-4 inhibitor AER-271 blocks acute cerebral edema and improves early outcome in a pediatric model of asphyxial cardiac arrest. Pediatr. Res. (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-018-0215-5.
The author declares no competing interests.
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Wallisch, J.S. ECI Biocommentary. Pediatr Res 85, 415 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-019-0286-y