Young Investigator Benjamin S. Freedman Recognized for Work on Regenerative Medicine

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Benjamin S. Freedman, PhD

Citation: Kidney News 15, 10/11

The ASN-American Heart Association Donald W. Seldin Young Investigator Award will be presented to Benjamin S. Freedman, PhD, who will speak on “Human Kidney Organoids for Disease Modeling and Regeneration” on Friday, November 3.

Dr. Freedman is associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington (UW), where he works with the Division of Nephrology, Kidney Research Institute, and Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Freedman's research focuses on how microscopic events in human cells produce macroscopic organs and tissues. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Freedman showed that human pluripotent stem cells from patients with polycystic kidney disease express molecular defects. He developed innovative protocols to change human pluripotent stem cells into kidney organoids, which are microscopic structures that resemble nephrons. Combining this with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) gene editing, he established the first kidney organoid models of polycystic kidney disease and glomerulosclerosis.

After joining UW, Dr. Freedman applied kidney organoids to produce new, mechanistic insights into the cellular and molecular basis of kidney disease states and established new, human, phenotypic models of ciliopathies, apolipoprotein L1 kidney disease, and SARS-CoV-2 infection. He automated the mass production of organoids from stem cells using liquid-handling robots—the first time such a feat had been achieved for any organ lineage. He recently merged organoid and organ-on-chip technologies, enabling microfluidic flow and bringing these structures even closer to actual nephrons.

Dr. Freedman has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals and a chapter on gene editing, organoids, and kidney regeneration for Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. He was a steering committee member of the Kidney Health Initiative.

Dr. Freedman's patented method to generate kidney organoids has been developed into a commercial kit by STEMCELL Technologies.

Dr. Freedman has received numerous awards, including researcher honoree of the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation, a career development award from the National Institutes of Health, a young investigator grant from the National Kidney Foundation, and a Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Award from ASN.

He received his PhD in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Renal Division at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.