• Jennie Lin, MD

    2021 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant
    Jennie Lin, MD

    Jennie Lin, MD

    2021 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant

    Institution: Northwestern University

    Project Title: Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Macrophage Function in APOL1 Nephropathy

    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    My group studies how genetic variants modulate macrophage function at the intersection of kidney and cardiovascular disease.

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

    APOL1 DNA variants that associate with kidney disease evolved as part of primate innate immunity against African sleeping sickness, but their effects on innate immune cells such as macrophages remain unclear. In the kidney and other organs, macrophages are essential for injury repair and inflammation resolution. However, we have observed that macrophages expressing APOL1 disease variants demonstrate sustained inflammation and impaired reparative activity. Our goal is to elucidate the mechanisms by which APOL1 disease variants alter macrophage function to amplify kidney injury in APOL1 nephropathy.

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

    Successful therapeutic strategies require targeting the cell types involved in disease pathogenesis. Much of the ongoing APOL1 work in the field understandably prioritizes podocytes and tubular cells, but treating those cells without putting out the fire from immune cells may ultimately limit therapeutic benefit. As such, our work aims to provide foundational knowledge on the pathogenic role of macrophage inflammation in APOL1 nephropathy to establish whether macrophages should also be targeted in APOL1 therapeutics. 

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

    My goal at the end of the TIG award period is to obtain NIH R01 funding to continue our investigation of the potentially pathogenic role of macrophages in APOL1 nephropathy. My goal for five years from now is to expand my macrophage studies to other kidney disease associated variants. My goal for ten years from now is to be involved in therapeutic targeting of kidney macrophages.

    What are the major challenges facing nephrology research today?

    Not enough public and private investment in kidney research – innovation and discoveries that result from big ideas require ample funding to accelerate research progress.

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

    In the sage words of Michael Scott from The Office, quoting Wayne Gretzky, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

    Something you may not know about me is … 

    my favorite prose is the Ithaca chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses. 

    In my free time I like to … 

    spend time with my two rescue hounds, explore Chicago through the lens of a DSLR camera, take Peloton classes, scuba dive, and go on foodie adventures.

    Follow on Twitter: @jenniejlin