• Sho Morioka, PhD

    2020 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant Recipient
    Sho Morioka, PhD

    Sho Morioka, PhD

    2020 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant Recipient

    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    We have established a novel system to facilitate removal of dying cells from various organs, and we are particularly interested in its effects on acute kidney injury.

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

    What would happen if you could significantly boost your capacity to remove dead cells from your body? Death of kidney cells can be found in patients with AKI. Cells responsible for removing dying cells can often become overwhelmed by rapid generation of dead cells. We have developed a completely novel way to enhance dead cell clearance in a mouse model to test whether and how efficient removal rather than inhibition of dead cells facilitates repair during AKI.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    Fascinatingly, many of the solute carrier family (SLCs) are abundantly expressed and best characterized in the kidney. Previously, we have identified a novel SLC program that was dynamically modulated during apoptotic cell engulfment in vitro and in vivo. More than 100 SLC gene mutations are linked to human diseases. In combination with the use of the super-engulfer mouse described above, we began exploring the role of efferocytic SLCs in the context of kidney injury and function.

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

    Our studies using the super-engulfer model will open a new avenue for efferocytosis targeted AKI therapy and will bring significant advance to next level pre-clinical studies. 

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

    "The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities."- Stephen Hawking Within five years, my goal is to provide a novel direction for AKI therapy with these unique ideas and models. I also would like to have my lab established and well-funded focusing on the topic of "cell clearance in health and kidney diseases." In ten years, I will do my best to expand any possibilities available to me and I would like to achieve another "goal in five years." I wish for it to be a really exciting one.

    What has surprised you most about your career?

    This position at UVA. I am thankful to all the colleagues including juniors, friends, seniors, and my mentors and heroes. I am a molecular and cellular biologist by training, and the AKI idea came up super-coincidentally involving ideas from everyone. It was really unexpected and exciting that it brought me to the nephrology research field. 

    What are the major challenges facing nephrology research today? 

    As a consequence of gaps in our understanding of the pathophysiology of AKI, adverse effects of pharmacological agents, and a lack of good animal models, effective treatment of AKI in well-designed clinical trials remains elusive and no approved pharmacological agents exist. Thus, bringing more ideas for novel therapies and innovative approaches are needed.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    Most of my philosophies are inspired by comic books.

    In my free time I like to… 

    Spend time with friends and family. Love my daughters.