• Dan Wang, PhD

    2021 Dimitrios G. Oreopoulos Research Fellowship Award
    Dan Wang, PhD

    Dan Wang, PhD

    2021 Dimitrios G. Oreopoulos Research Fellowship Award

    Institution: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

    Project Title: The Role Of Glomerular Basement Membrane Glycation and Stiffening in Development of Proteinuria


    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    The primary goal of this project is to determine how stiffening of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) affects the molecular permeability of the kidney filtration barrier in diabetic kidney disease.

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

    We have developed a bioengineered molecular permeability assay using GBM extracted directly from mammalian kidneys to evaluate how GBM stiffening alters molecular permeability in vitro. We will use this model with tuned stiffness coupled with imaging-based analysis of the molecular permeability of the glomerulus in diabetic mice to determine how sugar-mediated stiffening of GBM regulates its molecular permeability. We will then differentiate the effects of high sugar levels and matrix stiffening on podocyte and glomerular endothelial cell function.

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

    Proteinuria is a hallmark of diabetic nephropathy and acts diagnostic marker in patients with diabetic nephropathy. Thus, mechanistic understanding of the role of stiffening of GBM in the development of proteinuria may provide a new path to prevention or treatment of microvascular damage in diabetes. This work aims to establish the role of mechanobiology in diabetic kidney disease and provide the impetus to target matrix stiffening or the pathological response of podocytes and glomerular endothelial cells to increased GBM stiffness.

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

    My short-term goal is to develop the training and skills needed to develop a research program focused on kidney bioengineering. My long-term goal is to apply engineering principles to kidney research as an independent investigator at a research institution. I plan to collaborate with researchers from multiple backgrounds to use engineering approaches to answer biologically important questions related to kidney disease.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    I am very interested in applying new engineering approaches to solve problems related to human disease. Diabetic kidney disease is a leading cause of kidney failure, but the role of matrix stiffening in promoting damage in diabetic kidney disease has not been studied. This study aims to elucidate an unrecognized contributor to the development of microvascular damage in diabetic kidney disease. Focusing on this area of research will allow me to apply my expertise to significant public health issues. 

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

    I am sincerely honored to receive this award; the grant is an important step in establishing my independent research career and will allow me to concentrate more time on research and pursuing my career goals.

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

    I feel fortunate to be mentored by excellent professors. I would say an organized plan and good mentorship are the most important things for the application. I strongly encourage other early career researchers to apply for this grant with good mentorship and never lose hope.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I like playing movies, dramas, and TV shows while I am working on my writing and data processing.

    In my free time I like to…

    Cook, bake, run, play piano, and listen to music.