Sarah Linnstaedt, PhD

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Sarah Linnstaedt, PhD received her undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and her doctoral degree at Georgetown University in Washington DC. She then completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Duke University, researching the role of small regulatory RNAs, called microRNAs, in the pathogenesis of B cell lymphomas. While working as a post-doc, in addition to her interest in the mechanistic role of microRNAs, Dr. Linnstaedt also became interested in the potential of microRNAs to serve as biomarkers of various disease states. She soon noticed a particular need for the discovery of these diagnostic molecules in the chronic pain field and joined The Department of Anesthesiology TRYUMPH research team in Fall of 2012 to commence such studies. With the mentorship and collaboration of Dr. Samuel McLean and the use of blood samples from his large prospective Emergency Department based study of chronic pain development following Motor Vehicle collision (MVC), she has been able to examine microRNA signatures that are predictive of chronic pain development post-traumatic stress.

The microRNAs that Dr. Linnstaedt’s Lab has discovered will not only be useful as predictors of pain development after traumatic stress but also have the potential to serve as ‘snapshots’ of mechanisms that underlie pain pathogenesis in this setting. Therefore, in parallel, Dr. Linnstaedt’s Lab is also examining microRNA mechanisms of chronic pain development following MVC. Her lab is taking two approaches to address this goal: they are examining microRNA mechanisms of pain pathogenesis based on the microRNAs discovered in profiling studies and they are determining how genetic variants that are known to be associated with pain development post-MVC affect microRNA function. Techniques used in her laboratory include cell culture assays, molecular cloning, next generation sequencing, quantitative PCR, and bioinformatics and statistical analyses of microRNA expression data.

Dr. Linnstaedt’s long term goals are to define diagnostic molecules and therapeutic targets that will help improve the outcome of individuals experiencing pain following traumatic stress. She very much enjoys mentoring the amazing group of students in her laboratory and outside of research, Dr. Linnstaedt spends time with family and friends, travels to new destinations, and takes lots and lots of photos.