With the Researcher Spotlight, the Microbial Systems Initiative aims to introduce you to the breadth and diversity of research interests and potential growth opportunities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. We hope that by highlighting both the researchers and their research, we can help you to learn more about and connect with your colleagues to enhance multidisciplinary research and education in microbial sciences here at Illinois.
Jennifer M. Reinhart, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVCP
Assistant Professor, Veterinary Clinical Medicine
Jennifer M. Reinhart, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVCP is an assistant professor of small animal internal medicine in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. She received her D.V.M. from the University of Illinois in 2010 and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. She is double boarded in veterinary internal medicine and veterinary clinical pharmacology. Dr. Reinhart’s research focuses on endocrine diseases of dogs and cats and improved use of therapeutics across veterinary species.
What is your research in microbial systems about?
We are currently interested in changes that occur in the gut microbiome when dogs become diabetic. In people, dysbiosis may be a predisposing factor for type I diabetes mellitus and changes to the microbiome are thought to cause insulin resistance, which is a problem in all forms of diabetes. It is likely that similar changes occur in dogs, but very little is known about this area of research at the moment.
How are you conducting your research?
Currently, we are conducting a pilot study where we track newly diagnosed diabetic dogs during their first 12 weeks of treatment. We collect swab samples to analyze the rectal microbial population and monitor for changes over time. We also will also look for correlations between changes in the microbial population and how well the dogs’ diabetes is being controlled based on biochemical tests as well as symptoms of diabetes.
How does being a part of the Illinois community support and enhance your research?
Access to the sequencing and bioinformatics cores has been invaluable to this research project. Moreover, being relatively new to microbial systems research, I have greatly benefitted from the wealth of expertise here at Illinois, both within the College of Veterinary Medicine and throughout campus.
How will your research or work improve society or reach people?
Right now, we are focusing on understanding the microbial changes that occur in canine diabetes. However, our ultimate goal through this research is to develop targeted therapies to manipulate the microbiome and improve outcomes for this very important disease, which is common in the older pet dog population.
Do you have a personal story to share or path that led to your interest in this area of study?
As a veterinary internist and pharmacologist, endocrine diseases have always been of interest to me. However, once I came to Illinois and learned about all the microbial systems research happening here, I was inspired to expand my own investigations.