Proteinuria Expert to Speak on Podocyte Drug Targeting

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Mario Schiffer, MD, MBA

Citation: Kidney News 12, 10/11

A researcher who has spent 20 years investigating proteinuria causes and treatments will deliver the Michelle P. Winn, MD, Endowed Lectureship on “Drug Targeting of the Podocyte Actin Cytoskeleton.”

Mario Schiffer, MD, MBA, professor of medicine, director of the department of nephrology and hypertension, and head of the department of internal medicine at the University Hospital Erlangen in Germany will speak on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Dr. Schiffer began his research into proteinuria development as a postdoctoral fellow at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. His research using mouse models led to his discovery of a novel pathway for apoptosis in podocytes and the characterization of several novel pathways for podocyte loss.

After four years of postdoctoral training, Dr. Schiffer returned to his native Germany, where he became an independent investigator with funding from the German Research Council. He expanded his research to investigate pathways in proteinuric human diseases such as diabetic glomerulosclerosis, membranous glomerulonephritis, and transplant glomerulopathy.

He developed an effective measure of proteinuria in zebrafish larvae that permitted the monitoring of proteinuria in mutant as well as in morphant zebrafish larvae. That approach enabled him to perform rapid screening of novel genes involved in proteinuria development and study novel potential treatment targets. He collaborated with several other researchers—including the lectureship’s namesake, Dr. Michelle P. Winn—to produce a series of peer-reviewed publications about this novel method.

His main scientific goal is the identification of novel treatments for albuminuria. His high-throughput screening system to identify novel candidate genes involved in the pathogenesis of glomerular kidney diseases is being used by other researchers in the field worldwide. His zebrafish approach can be used to screen compounds and substances to treat early stages of proteinuric kidney disease.

In addition to his proteinuria research, Dr. Schiffer developed a strong clinical background in general nephrology, glomerular diseases, and transplant nephrology. This expertise was recognized in 2010 when he was awarded the Heisenberg Professorship for Transplant Nephrology. Among his many honors. Dr. Schiffer has received the Franz Volhard Award of the Germany Society of Nephrology, Hans U. Zollinger Award of the German Society of Nephrology, and Nils Alwall Award of the German Association for Clinical Nephrology.

He received his medical degree from the Free University of Berlin.