2022 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award
Institution: University of Washington
Project Title: Podocyte Inflammation Accelerates Parietal Epithelial Cell Injury in the Aged Kidney
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
My research focuses on using novel open microfluidic coculture platforms to investigate the intercellular crosstalk between injured podocytes and parietal epithelial cells (PECs) in the events of aging and glomerulosclerosis.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
The relationship between aging and kidney health is increasingly important as life expectancy increases. However, it is unclear which pathways and mechanisms cause and coordinate glomerular aging and the accompanying glomerulosclerosis. To test our hypothesis that inflammatory podocyte phenotypes in aged kidneys impact both podocyte and PEC health, we will use a genetic approach on aged mouse models, and novel microfluidic coculture devices to interrogate the podocyte autocrine and paracrine signaling loops.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
My research aims to establish a new mechanistic paradigm of aged podocyte-derived inflammatory autocrine and paracrine signaling. Herein, we hope the study can help us understand and explain age-associated glomerular changes, and eventually alleviate the decline of kidney functions among older people.
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 hope to have received my doctoral degree at the University of Washington with expertise in both microfluidics and biomedical research. Afterward, I hope to continue my training and gain independence in kidney research at a postdoctoral position. My ultimate goal is to lead a multidisciplinary team of scientists conducting research in nephrology as an independent principal investigator, improving the diagnosis and care for individuals with kidney disease.
What inspired you to focus your research in this area?
My motivation to pursue kidney research originally sprouted with a family history of chronic kidney disease and the biomedical research experiences throughout my undergraduate degree. My research interest in nephrology truly took form after I began to study cellular crosstalk in glomerular diseases for my PhD and was further solidified when I interacted with the nephrology community at the ASN Kidney Week and STARS program. Additionally, the mentorship from my two advisors (Prof. Stuart Shankland, MD, and Prof. Ashleigh Theberge, PhD) also greatly encouraged me in pursuing kidney research.
What are the major challenges to beginning a career in kidney research today?
I think one of the challenges is the number of emerging technologies that are being invented and applied to kidney research. We must always be prepared to self-educate on new technologies and biological findings to adapt to the ever-changing field and to conduct cutting-edge research in the field of nephrology.
In one sentence, please describe the importance of having grant funding available through KidneyCure.
The grant funding through KidneyCure not only provides me with financial support that allows me to focus on research full time, but also demonstrates the acknowledgement of the value of my research from the nephrology community.
Something you may not know about me is…
I love spicy food and caffeinated drinks. I definitely do not drink enough water for the sake of my kidney health.
In my free time I like to…
travel, watch TV & movies, and pet my cat.