• Ryoichi Bessho, MD, PhD

    2024 Sharon Anderson Research Fellowship
    Ryoichi Bessho, MD, PhD

    Ryoichi Bessho, MD, PhD

    2024 Sharon Anderson Research Fellowship

    Institution: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

    Project Title: Dissecting Mitochondrial Electron Transport Function in Renal Fibrogenesis

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

    My research focus is to advance our understanding of how abnormalities in mitochondrial metabolism contribute to the pathophysiology of kidney injury.

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

    Although previous research revealed that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the pathophysiology of different forms of kidney injury, the mechanisms by which mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to kidney pathogenesis are not clearly understood. For my research, I take advantage of novel genetic mouse models with alterations in mitochondrial electron transport and metabolism. Phenotypic characterization, and metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses of these models will provide new insights into the mechanisms by which alterations in mitochondrial electron transport contribute to the pathogenesis of kidney injury.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    I am an endocrinologist and many of my patients with diabetes mellitus and obesity develop kidney disease. I also take care of patients with congenital metabolic abnormalities, in particular mitochondrial diseases. My clinical experience stimulated my interest in understanding the mechanisms by which abnormalities in the body's metabolism result in kidney injury.

    What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?

    My project is based on the hypothesis that mitochondrial metabolites control the expression of genes through epigenetic modification. I hope that my studies of mitochondrial metabolism will result in the discovery of molecular targets that will lead to the development of new therapies for the prevention and treatment of chronic kidney disease.

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

    I am planning to pursue a career as an academic physician-scientist. After successful completion of my Sharon Anderson Research Fellowship, I would like to build my own independent research program to further develop my interest in mitochondrial biology, especially as it relates to diabetic kidney disease. For the future, I hope to work in a stimulating university environment and conduct research studies that will bridge the gap between bench and bedside in the field of metabolism.

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

    I am honored to be the recipient of the Sharon Anderson Research Fellowship award, which provides me with protected time to pursue my scientific studies and to develop a future research plan that will help me launch my career as an independent physician-scientist.

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

    I was selected for this fellowship because I was able to find and work with a supportive mentor, and wonderful colleagues and collaborators at a great academic institution. Applying for a grant is painstaking. Even if the application is not successful, revising and resubmitting a research proposal will be an invaluable learning experience.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I worked part-time at Starbucks when I was in college. I made and drank a lot of coffee.

    In my free time I like to…

    I am a big fan of baseball and like watching it on TV and in the stadium. I also enjoy traveling with my wife and kids. When I am alone at home, I like to read comic books.