Brenda Poindexter: PTN Principal Investigator at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis

Brenda Poindexter is a clinical neonatologist, which means that she specializes in the care, development, and diseases of newborn infants (neonates), both premature and full-term. Working in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), she tackles issues related to premature birth, low birth weight, sepsis (infection) and septic shock, birth defects, critical illness, respiratory problems, and other life-threatening complications.

Her specialization in neonatal medicine makes her a valuable contributor to the Pediatric Trials Network, which seeks to fill gaps in knowledge about how best to treat these uniquely vulnerable patients. As the PTN principal investigator (PI) at Riley Hospital for Children, she oversees a staff of 7 research nurses, whom she describes as “hard-working, dedicated, and amazing women to work with.”

A professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Dr. Poindexter devotes her research efforts to the study of nutrition in premature neonates—specifically, the impact of early parenteral nutrition (intravenous feeding) on infant growth and neurodevelopment. She also investigates the effects of human breast milk on infant development. This work has been advanced through her involvement as a PI for the Neonatal Research Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a role she has played since 2006 when she worked on a clinical trial studying parenteral glutamine supplementation in extremely low birth weight infants. She also serves as a PI for the multicenter Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP) study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to these research activities, Dr. Poindexter coordinates all clinical research for the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Indiana University. She also serves as the vice chair for one of the biomedical institutional review boards at the university. (An institutional review board is a committee formally designated by an institution to approve, monitor, and review biomedical research involving humans that is conducted at the institution).

At home, the Poindexter women outnumber the man 5 to 1. Dr. Poindexter is the proud mother of 4 busy daughters: Emily (age 20, a pre-med student at Indiana University in Bloomington), Claire (age 17, a high school junior), Anne (age 14, a high school freshman), and Ellie (age 10, a 4th grader). The girls’ soccer and lacrosse games keep the family very busy. When college basketball season rolls around, the Poindexters will be rooting for the Hoosiers, who currently rank #1 in preseason polls.