• Poornima Dilhani Ekanayake Weerasinghe Mudiyanselage, PhD

    2024 Donald E. Wesson Research Fellowship
    Poornima Dilhani Ekanayake Weerasinghe Mudiyanselage, PhD

    Poornima Dilhani Ekanayake Weerasinghe Mudiyanselage, PhD

    2024 Donald E. Wesson Research Fellowship

    Institution: Washington University School of Medicine

    Project Title: Chronic neuroinflammation, neuropathology and neurocognitive dysfunction after acute kidney injury

    How would you sum up your overall research focus in one sentence?

    My research focuses on investigating the neurological consequences of acute kidney injury and the molecular mechanisms that drives kidney-brain crosstalk.

    Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.

    Acute kidney injury (AKI) is very common in hospitalized patients. 50% of AKI patients show persistent neurocognitive dysfunction at 6 months after AKI is resolved and 7% of patients develop dementia within 2 years after AKI. While the pathophysiological mechanism(s) of this kidney-brain crosstalk is largely unknown, limited studies have implicated neuroinflammation as a possible cause. How AKI acutely or chronically modulates neuroinflammation and impacts neurologic function are poorly understood, impeding development of therapeutic approaches to mitigate risk of cognitive dysfunction after AKI. Therefore, overall goal of this project is to discover the plausible mechanistic pathways to elucidate the kidney-brain crosstalk, especially in chronic setting.

    What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?

    With the help of this fellowship, I aim to make significant scientific advancements in the areas of study design, writing scientific publication, communication, and critical assessment skills. Consequently, I hope to receive a career development award for preparing to be an independent researcher in five years. My long-term goal is to be a scientist with independent funding, examining the molecular mechanisms causing the chronic progression of neuroinflammation in AKI patients and potentially targeting treatment strategies.

    In one sentence, please describe the importance of having grant funding available through KidneyCure.

    I have the opportunity to broaden the scope of my research while focusing on developing foundational research under the guidance of an incredible mentor.

    What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?

    I highly recommend applying for this grant to all early career nephrology researchers. I would encourage [applicants] to identify an area of expertise where they may need additional training and which can be applied to a wide range of problems in kidney research.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I am a veterinarian who was born and raised in Sri Lanka. I speak, write, and read three languages that have different roots of origin: Sinhala (native), English, and Korean at different levels of fluency.

    In my free time I like to…

    Spend time with my family, watch movies, paint, and cook.