Grant: Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship Award (2018)
Project Title: Risk Factors and Risk Modification for Chronic Kidney Disease in Black Sickle Cell Trait Patients
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
Elucidating risk factors and mechanisms for renal dysfunction in black subjects with sickle cell trait.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
Recent studies have linked sickle cell trait with chronic kidney disease – and chronic kidney disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality amongst black people in the United States. Using a healthcare system-based repository of patient bio-samples, I will be investigating plasma levels of markers of inflammation, oxidative stress and renal tubular damage in black subjects with sickle cell trait compared to black subjects without sickle cell trait to shed light on possible mechanisms of injury. I will also be leveraging a detailed hospital-based database to verify previously reported risks for chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease in sickle cell trait, and investigate the effect of certain medications and comorbidities on the decline in renal function in black subjects with sickle cell trait.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
This research proposal aims to be the first step towards explaining risk factors and mechanisms for chronic kidney disease in black patients with sickle cell trait. This will impact how physicians approach black patients with sickle cell trait in terms of modifying risk factors for chronic kidney disease and assessing risk for chronic kidney disease progression. The results of this study should increase awareness amongst the lay population of the risk for chronic kidney disease in sickle cell trait, which was previously thought to be a benign condition and hopefully increase interest in this understudied area.
What are your short- and long-term career goals?
By the end of this grant period, I will be working towards obtaining an academic appointment at a nephrology division and obtaining support for career development. In five years, my goal is to be working on clinical trials in sickle cell nephropathy and expanding my research focus to other areas of interest. In ten years, my goal is to be seeing patients, teaching young doctors, performing research, and utilizing available opportunities and resources to actively participate in making the world a better place one person at a time.
What inspired you to focus your research in kidney diseases?
I grew up and went to medical school in Nigeria surrounded by the stark contrasts between wealth and poverty, and a near universal disinterest in health education – all with dire consequences on the health of the population. Most striking to me was the silent and slow killer that is kidney disease. During residency in New York, I noted that the lack of awareness of chronic kidney disease amongst colleagues and in the general population was disappointingly similar to what I had experienced in Nigeria. This general lack of interest in nephrology, relative lack of breakthroughs in chronic kidney disease research, exciting intricacies of the kidney and its unique interplay with other organ systems led me down the path to kidney research.
What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?
Nephrology is an exciting field that is full of possibilities. There are several areas of research in kidney disease that have been barely touched, and this will provide the perfect opportunity for a postdoctoral fellow to start his or her career and translate his or her research into meaningful, lasting clinical impact. The American Society of Nephrology is at the forefront of ensuring that postdoctoral fellows have these opportunities and make the most of them.
Something you may not know about me is…
Well, a few things actually – I am 6 feet 4 inches tall and the shortest of 4 children in my family, I won a poetry competition in high school and was published online, and I am an American history buff – I have visited the White House several times, I’ve gone to the United States Capitol multiple times, most Smithsonian museums and several sites in Washington, DC and Philadelphia.
In my free time I like to…
In my free time I love travelling with my family and creating art using a camera: taking stills of landscapes, cityscapes and my favorite subjects: my beautiful wife, Marianne and my adorable 2-year-old daughter, Eliana.