Jillian Richter, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow working in the Institute for Military Medicine. The Institute, led by professor of surgery and vice chair for research Alex Lentsch, PhD, partners with the military to research innovative treatment approaches for the acutely injured patient and advance the care for military men and women.
Her research, under a T32 training grant led by associate professor of surgery Timothy Pritts, MD, PhD, focuses on the blood used in massive transfusions and the aging process it undergoes while stored.
How did you come to UC?
"It was through a connection with a co-worker. I did my PhD at Wake Forest University, through the school of biomedical engineering sciences, which is a joint program with Virginia Tech University. There was a spinoff company, KeraNetics, from the lab where I worked, and the research director met Alex Lentsch and we got involved with the lab and familiar with the institute’s research.
"When my husband began his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, I interviewed with Alex and Tim for a position here. I’ve been here since last July."
What is your research focused on?
"One of the projects I work on specifically has to do with how blood ages and the effects of storage time on blood—and subsequently, how the stored blood affects resuscitation after a traumatic injury.
"Right now, blood expires after six weeks of storage. The institute has developed a mouse model to mimic how human blood ages. Mice blood ages in two weeks, so we age blood and look at the different components between aged blood and new blood. We also have models to mimic hemorrhagic shock and subsequent resuscitation with different ages of blood and different fluid mixtures.
"The FDA regulations about blood storage are very vague. We’re investigating that a little bit more, first defining how blood goes bad and then finding out if there’s a way we can intervene to make bad blood good again—or slow down the process that comes with aging.
"Last fall, I received a University Research Council grant to study a further aspect of that. As stored blood ages, it goes through something referred to as the storage lesion, resulting in loss of the red blood cells’ viability and function.
"We’ve also discovered that, as blood ages, something forms in the blood called microparticles. The longer you store blood, the more microparticles you have. There seems to be an unknown link between the number of microparticles and the clinical outcomes of resuscitation with aged blood."
What do you do in your time outside UC?
"I just recently had a baby, Leah Grace. She’s 4 months old and she is so fun. She’s getting to the point where she's smiling and laughing at us. One of the things my husband and I love most is taking walks with her in the evening, now that it’s warming up. She loves her stroller, and she loves being outside.
"I’m really interested in fabric work like needlepoint, fabric applique and cross-stitching. I made a couple of things for Leah. I used to be a runner, so I’m trying to get back into that.
"But right now it’s great—once I come home I’ll cook dinner and then I play with her until bedtime, when I can do chores. Every evening, it’s playtime until she goes to bed."