Naomi Schneider's participation in genomics research at UNH helped to shape the start of her new career

UNH Nursing Program graduate Naomi Schneider

When Naomi Schneider ‘24 entered the UNH Nursing Program, she never imagined that data and genomics would play such a significant role in her education and future career. 

Schneider’s interest in genomics — the study of an individual’s genes and their functions to help understand how genetic variations affect health and disease — grew through collaboration with Clarissa Michalak, a clinical assistant professor of nursing. Together, they worked on Schneider’s honors thesis, utilizing the All of Us Research Program’s database to explore genetic factors associated with delirium tremens in alcohol withdrawal patients, a topic that piqued Schneider’s interest during her ICU clinical rotations. 

"This experience has totally opened my eyes to how important genomics are to healthcare," Schneider says. 

Harnessing Data for Genetic Insights in Healthcare 

The All of Us research database, an NIH initiative, is a large-scale resource that collects health data from diverse participants to advance medical research and personalized healthcare.  

Schneider used the database to compare patients with and without delirium tremens in alcohol withdrawal, allowing her to analyze their genetic data to find common variations. She even enlisted the help of a software engineer to learn coding to better isolate and analyze the data. 

Her findings confirmed that a specific single nucleotide polymorphism can be associated with increased risks of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, suggesting that genetic screening could aid in identifying individuals at risk for these symptoms. 

"I felt like I was doing something that could change how we perceive and treat alcohol withdrawal,” Schneider says. “Knowing that my work might contribute to better healthcare outcomes was the most rewarding part.”  

UNH Nursing Blends Clinical and Research Experience  

Schneider recently started working full-time as a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Concord Hospital – Laconia.  

"The nursing program at UNH has been amazing. The teachers are incredibly knowledgeable and work with you to understand the 'why' behind what we do,” Schneider says. “In critical care, it's crucial to understand these reasons because you're performing life-saving interventions.”  

Schneider firmly believes that the combination of clinical and research experience in the nursing program at UNH has been instrumental in her professional growth. She is particularly grateful to Michalak for sharing her passion for genomics and introducing her to the All of Us database, a resource that has broadened her understanding of healthcare.  

“Nurses are that doorway for patients to understand their health and wellness,” Schneider says. “If we have tools like the All of Us database in the future, we can better help patients change their lives and become healthier in general."  

Michalak, who teaches a graduate genomics course, hopes to increase student interest in genomics through curriculum and research opportunities. Additionally, she says the All of Us database is an important resource, not only for genomics, but for giving researchers access to other “big picture items,” like environmental data and social determinants of health.  

"The All of Us research study works to have multiple representations across all communities,18 and above, so it's more inclusive in its findings, with more research and information that applies to a heterogeneous population,” Michalak says. “It opens up an improvement clinically for us to care for more patients better in the future, which is the idea of personalized health and medicine.”