• Jessica Bahena-Lopez, MD, PhD

    2024 Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship
    Jessica Bahena-Lopez, MD, PhD

    Jessica Bahena-Lopez, MD, PhD

    2024 Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship

    Institution: Oregon Health & Science University

    Project Title: The role of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in regulating sodium reabsorption

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

    The role of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in regulating distal sodium reabsorption.

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

    This research aims to unravel the role of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in regulating the NaCl cotransporter (NCC) in the kidney's distal convoluted tubule (DCT), and to determine how the localization of GPCRs—whether apical or basolateral—affects this regulation and subsequently influences salt reabsorption.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    Renal physiology captured my heart since my early days in medical school, and I found GPCRs fascinating due to their intricate role in physiological processes.

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

    Currently, one-third of FDA-approved drugs target GPCRs. Given that altered NCC (Sodium-Chloride Cotransporter) activity impacts blood pressure, understanding GPCR signaling in NCC regulation can lead to development of novel pharmacological interventions for controlling blood pressure through targeted GPCR pathways.

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

    My career goal is to evolve into an independent investigator, leading a cutting-edge laboratory at a research-intensive institution.

    What are the major challenges to beginning a career in nephrology research today?

    The high cost of accessing cutting-edge technology poses a significant barrier.

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

    KidneyCure offers an invaluable pathway to developing a career in nephrology research. This grant funding is essential for developing impactful research.

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

    Write down your thoughts, even if they're not fully formed. The act of writing will help clarify your ideas and inspire new insights.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I love diving into the world of international cuisine and learning to cook dishes from different countries.

    In my free time I like to…

    I love exploring new places with my dogs and practicing the art of yoga.