Grant: Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant (2019)
Project Title: Targeting Ferritin in Sepsis-Associated Acute Kidney Injury
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
Our research program is aimed at elucidating the inflammatory and (patho-)physiological processes in health and acute kidney injury.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
Our main focus of this proposal is to determine the potential role of ferritin light chain (circulating and intracellular) in restraining the over-reactive immune system and consequent kidney injury that occur during sepsis.
What inspired you to focus your research in this area?
Sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals and it accounts for 50% of acute kidney injury in critically ill patients. Thus, there is an urgent need for gaining more insight into the pathophysiology of this clinical syndrome to help us generate effective targeted therapies. During infection (or sepsis), there is a rapid increase in circulating ferritin levels and yet the physiological implications of this elevation is unknown. Therefore, our efforts are focused on determining the function and regulation of this evolutionarily conserved protein during sepsis.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
Our research provides evidence for an immunomodulatory and reno-protective function of this unique protein. Therefore, we may be able to target this protein to lessen the severity of sepsis and reduce the unacceptably high mortality rate.
What are your short and long-term career goals?
In the next five years, my goals are to develop a successful research program that focuses on elucidating inflammatory and repair mechanisms that occur during AKI. My long-term career goal is to become an established investigator committed to developing effective treatment strategies for kidney disease.
What has surprised you most about your career?
Although my career has been relatively short, it has been an unusual one. I came to UAB to pursue my PhD in 2005 and have since remained at UAB. I was told that I would not be able to advance my career if I continued at the same institution. Yet, I have garnered a pre-doc award (AHA), 2 post-doc awards (AHA and NIH) and a K01 (NIH). Also, I have a phenomenal mentor (Anupam Agarwal) who always guides me onto the right path. So, my advice to people is to focus on the science rather than geography and choose a mentor who is truly committed to your success!
What are the major challenges facing nephrology research today?
Despite the advancements we make each year, I am amazed at how little we still know about physiological processes that keep us alive. We need more funding for Basic science (pre-clinical) research that is aimed at unraveling physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in health and disease. Unless we focus our current efforts on elucidating these (patho-)mechanisms, we cannot generate effective targeted therapies against kidney disease.
In one sentence, please describe the importance of having grant funding available through the ASN Foundation.
This funding will be instrumental in determining the mechanisms underlying sepsis associated kidney injury. More importantly, it will help me establish a niche in this field of research and help dedicate my scientific efforts towards developing therapies against this devastating condition.
Something you may not know about me is…
I am a very private person and am not on social media.
In my free time I like to…
I am a mother of twin four-year old boys so honestly, I have no free time!