PhD | UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas, 2010
BA | Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, 2003
Dr. Jeter's laboratory aims to identify molecules in easily accessible human body fluids, such as blood and saliva, that have diagnostic or prognostic value. These biomarkers can be used to diagnose conditions, monitor disease progression, or evaluate treatment efficacy. Their utility is great for disease conditions that lack established diagnostic criteria or in clinical cases with insufficient information.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur after blunt, penetrating, or blast injuries to the head as a result of (for example) car accidents, gunshot wounds, or improvised explosive devices, respectively. Particularly for patients with mild TBI, diagnostic details of the trauma (such as loss of consciousness, post-traumatic amnesia, etc.) are often self-reported, though brain scans show no signs of injury. Whereas primary pathologies of TBI occur within minutes to hours of trauma and are therefore difficult to monitor, secondary pathologies and recovery are amenable to biomarker discovery and application. For instance, biomarker levels one day after injury are prognostic for subsequent increased intracranial pressure five days after injury. Thus, biomarkers give clinicians diagnostic information and advance warning of outcomes, prompting interventions to avoid invasive procedures such as bone flap removal.
Dr. Jeter's lab uses biochemical techniques to discover molecular biomarkers of acute and chronic traumatic brain injury. These proteins or metabolites may increase or decrease in the saliva or blood plasma of TBI patients as a consequence of blood-brain barrier compromise, providing a quick and quantitative diagnostic test. Often, individual biomarkers do not have sufficient diagnostic accuracy, but a combination of several biomarkers, called a biomarker signature, bolsters their effectiveness.
These innovations will support evacuating TBI patients from far-forward battlefields or rural areas, inform return-to-play/work/duty decisions and speed the time to life-saving care.