• Nicholas Steers, PhD

    2024 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant
    Nicholas Steers, PhD

    Nicholas Steers, PhD

    2024 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant

    Institution: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

    Elucidating the role of T-follicular like helper cells promoting the activation of B-cells in IgA Nephropathy

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

    My research will address how T-follicular like helper cells promote the activation of B-cells in IgA Nephropathy patients.

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

    We will initially define the sub-population of T-follicular like helper cells that promotes the class switching of naïve B-cells to IgA+ memory and antibody secreting cells. A single cell transcriptomics and functional immunological approach to the T-follicular like helper cell – B-cell interactions will be assessed, identifying new biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets that can modulate B-cells and the secretion of immunoglobulins.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    I have been interested in the complexity of the immune systems for many years. When I learned more about IgA Nephropathy, specifically the IgA1 hyperresponsiveness and Gd-IgA1, I wanted to use functional immunological tools to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of the B-cell – T-cell interactions to help develop the next generation of therapeutics.

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

    I hope our research will identify new biomarkers that can be used in patient management and treatment, and the identification of novel therapeutic targets will lead to the development of the next generation of therapeutics.

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

    My career goal is to have my own laboratory focused on immune mediated glomerular diseases. By the end of this grant, I am aiming to obtain R01 funding or equivalent to continue my research focus on immune mediated glomerular diseases. My long-term career goal is to use a functional immunological and a bioinformatic approach to elucidate the molecular mechanism of immune mediated kidney disease that will identify new biomarkers of disease and novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of immune mediated kidney diseases.

    What has surprised you most about your career?

    My career trajectory, as an undergraduate student I was interested in molecular biology and genetic engineering, however following my first Masters degree, my Ph.D. and post-doctoral studies my research focus was on the immunology of infectious diseases. I have been researching immune mediated kidney diseases for the past decade after learning how the immune response can impact the kidney.

    What are the major challenges facing nephrology research today?

    The pathobiology of kidney disease that leads to kidney failure is very complex, and involves many different research fields such as physiology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and immunology. It is critical to identify ways of collaboration with these different disciplines to solve our research questions.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    When I was growing up, I wanted to be a racing driver and take part in the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race.

    In my free time, I like to…

    Sports, read, and travel.