• Jeannine Basta, PhD

    2022 Norman Siegel Research Scholar Grant
    Jeannine Basta, PhD

    Jeannine Basta, PhD

    2022 Norman Siegel Research Scholar Grant

    Institution: Washington University in St. Louis

    Project Title: Investigation of Nephron Maturation and Cessation in a Mouse Model that Disrupts Sall1/NuRD Interaction

    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    We propose to determine the mechanisms that regulate nephron cessation and loop of Henle specification, elongation, and maturation to develop strategies to prolong nephrogenesis or reprogram the mature kidney to regenerate new nephrons.

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

    We developed a targeted mouse mutant that disrupts the interaction between the transcription factor Sall1 and the chromatin-remodeling complex NuRD. These mutant mice have accelerated differentiation of nephron progenitor cells, pre-mature nephron cessation, and loss of the loop of Henle. Using these mice, we propose to perform snRNA/ATAC-seq, spatial transcriptomics, and 3D confocal imaging at embryonic and post-natal time points to identify the mechanisms that regulate nephron cessation and loop of Henle specification, elongation, and maturation.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    I was inspired to focus my research in the area of kidney development because of my own experiences as a child diagnosed with vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). Luckily my case resolved over time, however, I realized that many other children were not so lucky, and that kidney defects are very common. My interest in kidney development and disease was solidified in graduate school when I saw my first glimpse of a developing embryonic kidney under the microscope with the ureter glowing fluorescent green. I was astonished at the beautiful complexity of the organ, and I was hooked!

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

    Nephron formation is a reiterative process during embryonic development that stops shortly after birth. My hope is that if we understand the mechanisms that regulate nephron maturation and cessation, we can then use this new knowledge to prolong nephrogenesis in pre-term infants or reprogram the mature kidney to regenerate new nephrons after kidney injury. 

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

    I look forward to the data that this grant is going to generate, and at the end of this grant period the goal is to write an R01 for independent funding to form my own independent lab. Five years out I hope to have a bustling, productive, energetic lab with some students performing exciting cutting edge science, publishing our work in respected journals and obtaining grant funding. Ten years out I hope to have a fully established lab making significant contributions to the kidney development and kidney injury field.

    What has surprised you most about your career?

    The kidney field has made much progress in identifying the molecular mechanisms responsible for the early patterning of the kidney. However, I'm surprised at how much there is still to be discovered about nephron maturation, cessation, and post-natal development. With the advances in single cell technologies and next generation sequencing there is so much knowledge to be unlocked, and I look forward to seeing how much the field is advanced in the future. 

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I had the privilege of growing up on a farm outside of the beautiful town of Hermann, MO. We had 2 acres of strawberries, among other crops and animals, and I learned the value of a positive work ethic. The small town of Hermann to date has won 15 women's volleyball state high school championships, of which I was lucky to be a part of for 2 state championships.

    In my free time I like to…

    I have 3-year-old twins and an 8-year-old child, so free time is pretty much non-existent, but I love spending time with my family, and if my husband and I get a date night we love to go to the movies and try new places to eat. I also love spending time with my family on my parent's farm where my children can run free and enjoy nature and animals.