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PhD aims to pre-empt acute kidney injury in heart failure

Tuesday, 8 August 2017 4:50pm

Evie Templeton, PhD candidateEvie Templeton, PhD candidate

From Marlborough Girls’ College to Christchurch, via Wellington’s Victoria University, Evie Templeton has moved steadily along the path of her science research career, now opting to join the Christchurch Heart Institute (CHI) to carry out her PhD exploring new markers for early detection of acute kidney injury in heart failure.

“I completed my Master of Clinical Immunology with the Wellington Cardiovascular Research Group, which was looking at heart health from an inflammatory perspective. My PhD aims to find microRNAs – small pieces of genetic material produced from our DNA that could be an early indication of acute kidney injury.”

Acute kidney injury is a serious condition which occurs in around a quarter of heart failure patients, causing an abrupt loss of kidney function and doubling mortality at one year. Currently, acute kidney injury is diagnosed by blood levels of a kidney marker called creatinine. However, levels of this marker only increase once damage to the kidney has already occurred. To identify patients before damage occurs, we need new early markers that can detect when the kidney is in trouble.

Working under the supervision of Dr Anna Pilbrow, Professor Vicky Cameron and Associate Professor John Pickering at the CHI’s department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Evie says the research addresses a healthcare challenge that may bridge the gap in knowledge and clinical management of acute kidney injury in heart failure.

“The study has the potential to foster better management of acute heart failure, by improving treatments that currently, unintentionally, lead to reduced kidney function. The findings have the potential to translate into meaningful health outcomes and community benefit for New Zealanders.”

Being a people person, it is important to Evie that her work benefits others. As a scientist she can actively help to discover new breakthroughs that can be directly translated into clinical benefits for patients.

“Biomedical research gives me the opportunity to make a difference for others. I am excited to be working with the Christchurch Heart Institute in research that provides a foundation for improved healthcare.”