Hypertension researcher Toshiro Fujita, MD, PhD, will be presented the 2019 Homer W. Smith Award on Sunday, Nov. 10. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to understanding how kidneys function in normal and diseased states.
Dr. Fujita will speak on “Salt, Hypertension, and the Kidneys.”
He is a senior fellow at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology and chief of the division of clinical epigenetics. He is also an emeritus professor after serving as chair of the department of nephrology and endocrinology at the university’s school of medicine.
Dr. Fujita has a long track record of nephrological research in elucidating mechanisms and clinical challenges of salt-sensitive hypertension.
In 2008, his team reported a seminal discovery of the unique role of the Rho family GTPase Rac1 as a potent regulator of mineralocorticoid receptor nuclear translocation and resultant salt retention, proteinuria, and glomerulosclerosis.
Dr. Fujita had previously contributed to our knowledge of salt-sensitive hypertension when, working with Dr. Fred Bartter’s laboratory at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, he reported heightened adrenergic activity as a key factor in salt sensitivity. In 2011, his team defined a lengthy and complex adrenergic pathway leading to sodium retention and resulting hypertension.
Dr. Fujita’s group also found that the renin-angiotensin system in the brain plays an important role in prenatal programmed salt-sensitive hypertension.
These discoveries have been invaluable contributions to the understanding of the role of dietary salt in hypertension and kidney diseases and led to publication of more than 600 papers in peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Fujita has made many other contributions to the profession by serving as president of the Japanese Society of Nephrology, an invited speaker at ASN, a symposium organizer for the International Society of Nephrology, and a work group member of Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes. He chaired the 2018 Gordon research conference on angiotensin.
His contributions have been recognized by the Arthur Corcoran Memorial Lecture award and a hypertension research award from the American Heart Association, an honorary membership from the European Society of Hypertension, and the Franz Volhard Award from the International Society of Hypertension. He also received the medal of the purple ribbon from Japan’s emperor for the promotion of science in Japan.
Dr. Fujita received his medical and doctoral degrees from Keio University School of Medicine, where he also did his internship and residency in nephrology. He then completed a fellowship at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. He joined the faculty of the University of Tokyo in 1988.