University of Nebraska Medical Center

Trainee Researchers Find Success in Mentorship with Dr. Eric Peeples

woman and man in lab looking at computer

Eric Peeples, MD, PhD, associate professor, Division of Neonatology, and a Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) Scholar, has made a point of working with learners on research since he arrived in the Department of Pediatrics seven years ago.

He works with undergraduates, med students, residents and fellows and shepherds them through all variety of research projects related to neonatology. Under his guidance, those learners have been recognized with five abstract awards and three research excellence awards and have produced 15 successful publications with the learner as first author. However, his biggest reward is knowing that he is preparing the next generation to take on current and future pediatric research challenges.

Dr. Peeples connects with learners through formal research matching programs with medical and undergraduate students. Resident and fellow partnerships commonly arise through working together during a learner’s neonatology rotation. Often learners choose to perform clinical research, but Dr. Peeples has also guided several learners through research in his bench research laboratory. A recent example began with a month-long research elective with Amanda Dave, MD, who was then a UNMC pediatric resident. Dr. Dave benefited from a collaboration between Dr. Peeples and Zeljka Korade, DVM, PhD, professor, Division of Inherited Metabolic Diseases, to develop her own area of research investigating brain cholesterol and acylcarnitine metabolism following neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Dr. Dave successfully applied for funding through the CHRI grant mechanism, and her work in this area earned her first place in the 2021 CHRI Pediatric Research Forum in the resident/fellow division as well as the UNMC George Miyzakai Research Award for a graduating resident with excellence in research. The project has produced two published articles, with a third currently under review.

In another example, current pediatric resident, Katie Kim, DO, came into her work with Dr. Peeples with an interest in understanding more about birth defects. Having minimal previous research experience in studying birth defects, Dr. Peeples reached out to a colleague with expertise in that subject at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Martha Rhoades, PhD, research manager, School of Natural Resources. Guidance from Drs. Rhoades and Peeples enabled Dr. Kim to develop a project that matched her interests. She obtained funding through a CHRI mini grant and presented her findings, “Evaluating Placental Passage and Teratogenicity of N-nitrosoatrazine in a Pregnant Rat Model,” during Pediatric Grand Rounds at the most recent CHRI Pediatric Research Forum. "Dr. Peeples is such an incredible mentor, always available to help," Dr. Kim said. "He has truly helped me develop my interest in research and my long-term career goals."

Dr. Peeples revels in the successes of the learners with whom he works and is honored to play the role of mentor. “The world needs far more pediatric researchers so I’m proud to help those I work with build their skills and find the area of study that is right for them,” Dr. Peeples said.