Lashodya Dissanayake, MD, PhD
Lashodya Dissanayake, MD, PhD
2023 Dimitrios G. Oreopoulus Research Fellowship Award
Institution: University of South Florida – Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
Project Title: The Role of Uric Acid Homeostasis in Salt-Sensitive Hypertension
How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
My research is focused on redefining the role of uric acid homeostasis in the cardiorenal continuum.
Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.
Hyperuricemia or increased serum uric acid is debated as a risk factor and a potential causal factor in kidney disease and blood pressure control. The current proposal uses mildly increasing uric acid levels and exploring the effects on kidney and blood pressure regulation specifically in salt-sensitive subjects. Supported by our preliminary work, departing from the traditional view of the topic, I am confident that this proposal will help uncover that the increased uric acid levels are not inherently a detrimental factor. Instead, balancing uric acid is critical in cardiorenal pathologies.
What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
It is estimated that ~51% of the hypertensive population and 26% of the normotensive population are salt-sensitive, yet effective antihypertensive treatment is challenging. Studying hyperuricemia in salt-sensitive hypertension will hopefully reveal insights into this controversial topic and lead to better-tailored recommendations for precision-based treatment on genetically determined traits such as salt sensitivity.
What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?
By the end of the grant period, I hope to finish the proposed work, present it at multiple national conferences including Kidney Week, and publish 1-2 first-authored papers stemming from this work. In the next five years, I hope to secure transitional funding that can open the door for independence. Finally, in the next 10 years, I hope to get into a faculty position and continue my work in kidney research.
What inspired you to focus your research in this area?
My interest in Nephrology developed as a graduate student at the strongly renal-focused Physiology Department at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Joining the Staruschenko lab solidified this interest as Dr. Staruschenko is an expert in renal physiology with a dedication to the field. Studying kidneys has a personal meaning for me as I am from Sri Lanka, a country with a higher prevalence of CKD of unknown etiology. My goal is to add knowledge to the field that one day will positively affect both developing and developed countries.
What are the major challenges to beginning a career in nephrology research today?
For international scholars in any field of research, one of the biggest challenges is the limited number of funding sources.
Something you may not know about me is…
I speak, write, and read three languages that have vastly different roots of origin: Sinhala (native), English, and Russian!
In my free time I like to…
Cook and bake for other people. It gives me joy to feed others and is very much a part of the Sri Lankan culture and hospitality we are known for.
Follow on Twitter: @lashodya