New Investigator Jessica Snowden, M.D.

January 06, 2017

Image with caption: Jessica Snowden, M.D.

Jessica Snowden, M.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC's 2015 Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

The New Investigator Award

New Investigator Awards go to outstanding UNMC scientists who in the past two years have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New Investigators also had to demonstrate scholarly activity such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

  • Name: Jessica Snowden, M.D.
  • Title: Associate professor, UNMC Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease, College of Medicine
  • Joined UNMC: 2009
  • Hometown: Merryville, La.

Research focus:
Ventricular shunt infections

The goal of my research is to define the role of age on the immune responses in the brain in response to central nervous system catheter infections. These catheters (ventriculoperitoneal shunts and others) are used to treat hydrocephalus, but can become infected with bacteria such as staphylococci. These infections can result in increased surgical procedures, prolonged courses of antibiotics and neurologic complications such as seizures and IQ loss after the infection. Infants are at highest risk of these infections, but the reason for this has not been well defined.

My research will make a difference because it will allow us to identify strategies to target the immune system in our treatment of these infections. These strategies will allow us to better prevent and treat infections as well as to improve the neurologic outcomes of children following shunt infections. Improving our understanding of how infants' immune systems differ from adults will help us improve our treatment and prevention strategies for many infections in infancy, not just the shunt infections studied in our laboratory.

The best advice I've ever been given is:
You never know if you're going to like it until you try it. I was given this advice in the context of trying basic science research as a first-year infectious disease fellow, but this holds true in many arenas.

Three things you may not know about me

  • I'm running my first marathon at Walt Disney World this month.
  • I'm incredibly clumsy, which makes running a marathon a little nerve-wracking. Here's hoping I don't fall and hurt myself before or during the race!
  • Despite my clumsiness, I was the captain of my high school dance team in Texas, complete with big hair, high kicks and the works.