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Nephrology (Kidneys)Pediatric Nephrology
University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada
Childrens Hospital Boston Boston, MA Childrens Hospital Boston Boston, MA
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMCChildren's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a growing public health burden that results in significant morbidity and increased risk of mortality for individual patients. In the United States alone, the cost of care for CKD, kidney transplant anddialysis is over 40 billion dollars annually. At present, there are limitedtherapies available to ameliorate the progressive loss of renal function inCKD, and this ultimately leads to dialysis or transplant for these patients. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop novel tools and resources that maylead to innovative strategies to enhance renal repair and promote the generation of new nephrons in future.
In the pediatric population, renal dysplasia/hypoplasia is a leading cause of renal failure in children, and the risk of chronic kidney disease is linked to decreased renal reserve as a result of the formation of fewer and/or abnormal nephrons during kidney development. Furthermore, decreased congenital nephron endowment is associated with adult onset hypertension, a common health problem that leads to decreased life expectancy. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that control nephron number and formation is critical to making an impact on these diseases.
My laboratory is focused on understanding how microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate kidney development and disease. MiRNAs are small, non-coding RNA molecules that function largely as negative regulators of gene expression, and while they have been implicated in stem cell biology and the development of other organs, little is known about their role in the kidney. Nephron progenitors represent a population of self-renewing, multipotent progenitor cells that give rise to all the epithelial components of the nephron, the functional unit of the kidney. To make an impact on patients with CKD, we are studying the role of miRNAs in nephron progenitors, as a means of both understanding how nephron number and formation is determined duringkidney development, and how one might propagate and manipulate nephron progenitors for novel renal regenerative therapies.
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