Institution: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital
Grant: 2020 Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship
Project Title: Characterization and Manipulation of Proximal Tubule Development in Kidney Organoids
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
My project is based on using stem cell-derived kidney organoids to model renal epithelial developmental processes, with a specific emphasis on the proximal convoluted tubule.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
In the first portion of the project, we are generating a set of genetic reagents that will allow us to visualize human proximal tubule development in real-time in kidney organoids. We will then use these tools to carefully characterize different stages of in vitro proximal tubule development and compare this process to in vivo development using mouse and human transcriptomic data. Finally, we hope to use insights from these experiments to delineate strategies that will permit more robust proximal tubule development in the organoids.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
The overarching goal of this work is to optimize in vitro model systems that faithfully recapitulate human kidney development and physiology. As a pediatric nephrologist and developmental biologist, the embryonic processes are extremely fascinating with respect to their importance to congenital kidney anomalies, the most common etiology of CKD in children. Additionally, by optimizing the differentiation process, we hope to produce a wide variety of in vitro models that can be used extensively in nephrology research for applications such as disease modeling and drug testing.
What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?
My immediate objective at the end of the ASN grant period is to obtain a career development grant from the NIH. Ultimately, my goal is to run a basic science laboratory studying kidney development and disease, with a particular emphasis on using embryologic principles to drive advancement of regenerative medicine technologies.
What inspired you to focus your research in this area?
I obtained my PhD in a developmental biology lab studying the gastrointestinal tract, and I have since been extremely fascinated by questions related to how organs form in the embryo. When I entered fellowship in pediatric nephrology, the field of renal tubular development became an obvious niche that could unite these biological and clinical interests.
In one sentence, please describe the importance of having grant funding available through KidneyCure.
I am very grateful to have received funding support through KidneyCure, and I trust that it will continue to be an important catalyst in the early careers of nephrology researchers.
What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?
The ASN fellowship is an excellent way to bridge your support between a training grant and career development award, as well as providing a good opportunity to think about your important research aims. The application and review processes are straightforward and seamless.
Something you may not know about me is…
I’m a huge fan of comedy, with my favorites including Norm MacDonald, Gary Gulman, and Ricky Gervais.
In my free time I like to…
I am an avid sports fan and spend a lot of my free time watching football and basketball, especially Ohio State football in the fall.