Irene Chernova, MD, PhD
Irene Chernova, MD, PhD
2020 KidneyCure Research Fellowship Recipient
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
I am trying to understand how renal infiltrating cells in lupus nephritis survive the harsh hypertonic/salt stress conditions of the kidney.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
My goal is to understand how lymphocytes, particularly B cells, survive in kidneys from lupus-prone mice and patients. My preliminary research has identified upregulation of Na-K-ATPase as a possible mechanism by which cells are able to withstand salt stress in the kidney. I will investigate the effect of this molecule on lupus nephritis progression by using pharmacological blockade and genetic knockout approaches in lupus-prone mice, and by quantitating lymphocyte Na-K-ATPase expression on kidney biopsies from patients with lupus nephritis.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
I hope that by understanding the mechanisms involved in renal-infiltrating lymphocyte survival we discover new ways to target these cells and positively affect the outcome of lupus nephritis.
What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?
My goal is to publish at least one first-author manuscript based on the work toward the end of the award period and to apply for independent career development funding in the same timeframe. Long term I plan to be an academic physician-scientist running my own lab and getting inspired by my patients in the hospital.
What inspired you to focus your research in this area?
As someone with training in both nephrology and immunology I am very interested in the intersection of the two specialties. I am particularly intrigued by applying knowledge of renal physiology to understand how immune cells function especially as we know very little about how immune cells handle ions such as sodium.
What are the major challenges to beginning a career in nephrology research today?
As in most fields I think funding remains the major challenge for young investigators, especially those newer to research, who need more time to attain the required skills to be competitive in the research arena.
In one sentence, please describe the importance of having grant funding available through KidneyCure.
This funding will be critical to answer what I consider to be fundamental immuno-nephrology questions and hopefully allow me to successfully compete for future career development funding.
What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?
It is a wonderful opportunity to have your work evaluated by experts in the field and to secure prestigious funding. There is no reason not to try to go for this award!
Something you may not know about me is…
I worked in my first academic lab as a freshman in high school, made the decision to be a scientist then and never looked back!
In my free time I like to…
To travel the world or plan my next trip, so far at 35+ countries and counting.