Early Career Researcher Spotlight – Jennifer Kudelka

In the second spotlight we talk to Dr. Jennifer Kudelka. She is a medical doctor at the Department of Neurology of the University Hospital in Kiel. After finishing her medical studies in 2021 and completing her doctoral thesis in neurogeriatrics, she started a position as a clinician scientist, which allows her to combine clinical and scientific work. She works as a researcher in the working group of Prof. Walter Maetzler and is involved in the planning, implementation and scientific analysis of the IDEA-FAST project.

  1. What is your major focus as a researcher, and why were you drawn to this path?

Since the early stages of my time in medical school, I was very enthusiastic about neurology since it is a specialty with a big focus on clinical diagnostics allowing close contact between doctors and patients. In addition, I have always been fascinated by the complex systematics of the human nervous system. Now, I am a medical resident and clinician scientist in the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany. The role as clinician scientist enables me to work 50% in research and 50% in the neurological clinic. In my research, I have a special interest in Movement Disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, and geriatrics.

  1. What is IDEA-FAST, and why is it important? How can it change the future of chronically ill patients?

IDEA-FAST is a project that aims to achieve a better understanding of fatigue and sleep by using quantitative parameters provided by (wearable) devices that are used in a patient’s home environment. Fatigue and sleep are symptoms that are very often reported by chronically diseased patients but to date can only be assessed by subjective measures (e.g. questionnaires) or by effort- and cost-intensive methods such as polysomnography. By objective and reliable outcomes for fatigue and sleep assessment, the effect of drugs and other interventions can be sufficiently evaluated in the future.

  1. What challenges have you encountered so far within the project? How have you overcome these impediments?

For me, as a newcomer to research, it was difficult at first to understand the roles of the individual stakeholders in a very large, international project like IDEA-FAST. During my time in the project, I learned that an essential component to achieving the project goals is smooth and continuous communication. 

  1. What does the future have in store for this project and you as a researcher?

I am very excited to now enter the phase when my involvement in this project more and more shifts from organisational aspects (e.g. working on the implementation of the Clinical Observational Study) to scientific aspects and, in the future, to being part of the exploitation of this valuable dataset. Internally, we have already collected plenty of ideas for sub-studies that can be carried out with the IDEA-FAST data set and which I am very much looking forward to putting into practice.