Grant: Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant (2019)
Project Title: Pathological Role of T-cells in Salt-Sensitive Hypertension.
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
My research is focused on identifying the mechanisms involved in the initiation and progression of salt-sensitive hypertension.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
In this project I will use salt-sensitive rats, with and without functional T-cells, to examine the pathological effects of renal T-cell infiltration in salt-sensitive hypertension. Specifically, the project will focus on how renal T-cells affect renal sodium handling, kidney injury, and renal oxidative stress.
What inspired you to focus your research in this area?
Salt-sensitive hypertension has long been a research interest of mine and this project is one of many I have performed in the area. Other projects include: the role of mineralocorticoids in sodium handling, the pathological effects of oxidative stress in the kidney, and renal inflammation. The studies in this proposal will expand on my prior work by examining whether renal T-cells promote hypertension via increased oxidative stress and altered sodium handling in the kidney.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
I hope to help people lead better and healthier lives. Hypertension is a major cause of mortality and morbidity for people around the world, and for many there is a clear link between salt intake and increased blood pressure. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the salt-sensitive hypertension, from initiation to malignancy, might lead to novel therapeutic targets, improved treatments, and better outcomes for patients.
What are your short and long-term career goals?
The studies in this grant will form the basis of my first independent R01 application, which will focus on the causes and consequences of renal inflammation in salt-sensitive hypertension. I will be thrilled if in the next five years I can achieve independent R01 funding and establish my own lab.
What has surprised you most about your career?
When I started my undergraduate degree in Pharmacology I didn’t think that my career would be in academic research, let alone in the USA. During my PhD I discovered my enjoyment of academic research, particularly having the freedom to explore my own ideas, and the excitement of following up on novel observations. After my PhD I came to the USA for a 2-year post-doc, and I’m still here 7-years later.
What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?
This grant is an excellent opportunity for early career scientists who are aiming to establish their own research laboratory. I would encourage anyone who is considering applying for this grant to apply. Don’t be disheartened if the application is rejected, use the reviewers’ comments to revise the proposal and resubmit! The perseverance may pay off.
Something you may not know about me is…
My first job was at a Premier Foods factory. It was my responsibility to make sure that the labels on the jars of pasta sauce were straight.
In my free time I like to…
Travel (particularly back to my hometown in the UK), read, do jigsaw puzzles, enjoy a cup of tea, and bake.