Young Investigator Recognized for Contributions in Mechanism-Based Therapies

Anna Greka, MD, PhD, MHS

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The Donald W. Seldin Young Investigator Award will be presented to Anna Greka, MD, PhD, MHS, who will speak on “From Genes to Medicines: The Arc of Discovery for Kidney Diseases” on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Dr. Greka is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School; an associate physician in the renal division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and the founding director of Kidney-NExT (Center for Kidney Disease and Novel Experimental Therapeutics). She is also a member of the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, where she directs the Kidney Disease Initiative.

She has made seminal contributions to nephrology and kidney diseases, and is responsible for the development of some of the first mechanism-based therapies for kidney diseases.

Her lab studies mechanisms of cell survival and metabolic regulation, with an emphasis on calcium signaling and transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel biology. This work has led to important insights relevant to kidney function. For instance, applying this expertise to the study of kidney podocytes, the laboratory recently identified a specific TRPC5 channel blocker as the first mechanism-based therapeutic strategy for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.

She has also made important discoveries in podocyte biology on the role of cellular regulators such as Nck, CTFC, and BRAF, illuminating actionable pathways for the development of podocyte-protective therapies. She has brought several technological innovations to the field, including single-cell genomics and human kidney organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. She recently published a ground-breaking study on a novel mechanism for the development of toxic proteinopathies that affect the kidneys and other tissues that could be countered with an innovative therapeutic.

As the founding director of Kidney-NExT, Dr. Greka has made a significant contribution by organizing five internationally recognized symposia focused on kidney therapeutics. She also serves as co-chair of the Kidney Human Cell Atlas Consortium, an international effort to develop a comprehensive atlas of each cell type in the human kidney in both health and disease.

She maintains a clinical practice that receives referrals of patients from across the country with difficult-to-treat glomerular disorders and other rare kidney diseases.

Dr. Greka has been recognized with several honors, including an award for pioneering research and a young physician-scientist award from the American Society of Clinical Investigation, a U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and a research scholar award from ASN.

She received her MD and PhD in neurobiology from Harvard Medical School.

October/November 2020 (Vol. 12, Number 10 & 11)