• Riana Parvez, MS

    2021 ASN Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award
    Riana Parvez, MS

    Riana Parvez, MS

    2021 ASN Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award

    Institution: University of Southern California

    Project Title: Lineage Convergence in The Regulation of Fluid Homeostasis in the Kidney


    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    My research is aimed at understanding the core transcriptional programs that give rise to the functional cells within the collecting duct and connecting tubule.

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

    Recent lineage tracing data from our lab has shown that fluid regulating cells within the collecting duct and connecting tubule derive from the ureteric and nephron lineages, respectively. Despite the difference in origin, my hypothesis is that these cell types are generated through a shared, core transcriptional program. I aim to identify candidate transcription factors contributing to these fates, testing the role of these candidate factors using in vitro and in vivo models. I will also examine the potential role of Emx1 in the development of connecting tubule cell types.

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

    I hope that any insights gained from my development focused work can contribute to the improvement of in vitro models for kidney development and function. Kidney organoids are great tools being used to develop new therapies for a variety of kidney ailments through drug screenings and disease modeling. The kidney organoid field has made great strides in being able to generate certain kidney cell types, but there are still refinements that can be made, and I hope that my work can contribute to that. 

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

    At the end of the grant period, I will hopefully be near the end of my graduate studies, having gained expertise in computational analysis of sequencing data and the use of both in vitro and in vivo systems to answer a scientific question. Ultimately, I plan to pursue a career in industry and am currently interested in applying the skills gained during my training to work on understanding the mechanisms behind and/or finding therapies that can be applied to rare (orphan) congenital diseases. 

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    Even before I knew I wanted to go into research, I've been fascinated by how genes can orchestrate the development of a complex organism. Over the past few years studying the kidney, I have come to appreciate that it provides a great system for understanding how many cell diverse types can be generated from a common progenitor population. That being said, I was equally fascinated by my current research where two progenitor populations give rise to the same cell types. To me, these are complementary phenomena and it's exciting to be able to study them both within one organ. 

    What are the major challenges to beginning a career in kidney research today?

    I think a major challenge to beginning a career in kidney research today is that there are many groups out there doing exceptional work. It can be very difficult to find one's niche amongst that. However, it also means that there are great opportunities for collaboration with strong scientists.

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

    Don't count yourself out if you're doing a basic science project; while it can often feel like translational projects are best for grant applications, there's nothing wrong with having a basic science-based application. You'll never know until you try! 

    Something you may not know about me is…

    One of my hobbies is rock climbing even though I'm deathly afraid of heights!

    In my free time I like to…

    In my free time, I like to play video games with my husband and hang out with my cats.