• Chenjian Gu, PhD

    2024 Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship
    Chenjian Gu, PhD

    Chenjian Gu, PhD

    2024 Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship

    Institution: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

    Project Title: Novel Regulation of Autophagic Flux for the Treatment of Uromodulin-associated Nephropathy

    How would you sum up your overall research focus in one sentence?

    My research focuses on investigating the molecular pathogenesis underlying organelle dysfunction-mediated kidney diseases, especially autosomal dominant tubulointerstitial kidney disease (ADTKD), and discovering novel treatment. 

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

    To address the unmet medical needs, we have created a new mouse model that mimics the human ADTKD carrying a leading UMOD gene mutation. By utilizing the mouse model, our research will concentrate on how defective autophagy and the accumulation of toxic mutant UMOD protein lead to kidney fibrosis. The goal of this study is to explore a novel treatment targeting impaired autophagy in ADTKD.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    ADTKD-UMOD presents a substantial and inadequately addressed healthcare challenge. Moreover, this disease is a prototypical model of protein misfolding diseases. The absence of treatment underscores the compelling need for delineating its pathogenesis and developing precision-targeted therapy.

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

    UMOD-associated nephropathy, or ADTKD-UMOD is a leading hereditary kidney disease. Currently there is no targeted therapy. The aim of our research is to develop novel treatment. If successful, our proposed study will define a previously unknown pro-fibrotic mechanism and develop an innovative and highly effective therapeutic agent for ADTKD and CKD.

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

    Driven by an unwavering commitment to the field of nephrology, my aspiration is to delve deeply into the intricate genetic disorders afflicting the kidney. The proposed training in this grant will make me become an excellent researcher. My long-term career goal is to establish myself as an independent investigator and lead a research group at the forefront of developing groundbreaking therapies that can transform the treatment landscape for renal disorders caused by organelle dysfunction.

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

    This fellowship is instrumental in reaching my career goals through both research training and professional development.

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

    Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Forget about success or failure, just apply for this.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I love music, but my singing is best enjoyed when I sing quietly.

    In my free time I like to…

    Try out various ingredients in culinary experiments.