• Tanecia Mitchell, PHD

    2021 OHF-KidneyCure Research Grant
    Tanecia Mitchell, PHD

    Tanecia Mitchell, PHD

    2021 OHF-KidneyCure Research Grant

    Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham 

    Project Title: The Impact of Crystalluria on Immunity During Kidney Stone Formation

    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    The purpose of my research is to understand how dietary oxalate can promote crystalluria and alter metabolism in immune cells, and how these responses can influence kidney stone risk.

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

    We will evaluate whether oxalate alters nanocrystalluria and macrophage function using human translational studies and in vitro experimental models. The impact of this research will help us understand how oxalate can influence immunity, and test strategies to assess stone risk and/or modulate macrophage immunometabolism in calcium oxalate kidney stone disease.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area? 

    Kidney stone disease is becoming more prevalent worldwide and is known to be influenced by the diet. I was specifically interested in evaluating whether dietary oxalate contributes to alterations in immunity during kidney stone disease. 

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

    I hope that my research will provide relevant scientific information to help understand, prevent, and/or treat kidney stone formation. We recently developed a novel method to specifically detect and quantify nanocrystalluria using NanoSight Technology, a tool that measures nanoparticles in biological samples. The ability to enumerate urinary crystals, the precursors to kidney stones, could be a useful predictive marker for kidney stone disease. Ideally, this could potentially help monitor a patient's risk for a kidney stone and/or help assess their response to therapy. 

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

    My primary career goal is to have a lifelong career in academic research and to become a highly productive well-funded investigator and leader in the kidney field. I desire to lead my laboratory in making significant scientific discoveries related to kidney stones and to mentor the next generation of scientists. My long term career goals are to elucidate the significance of immunometabolism in kidney stone disease using experimental models and clinical studies, and to identify novel strategies to intervene in the pathogenesis (i.e. therapies) and/or prognosis of the disease.

    What are the major challenges facing nephrology research today?

    A major challenge facing nephrology research today is racial and ethnic disparities within the clinical trial setting. I hope to help change this narrative as I continue to lead unbiased clinical trials going forward.

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

    Receiving funding from the KidneyCure program not only further supports the progression of my research program but also encourages me that my research is considered valuable to the field. 

    Something you may not know about me is…

    that I volunteer for a non-profit organization, called The Croom Foundation, which focuses on helping underexposed students in Alabama receive full academic or athletic scholarships to attend college in Alabama and across the nation. 

    In my free time I like to… 

    spend time with my family and friends, hike, fish, exercise, and travel.

    Follow on Twitter: @drtmitchell