PKD Foundation awards fellowships to promising PKD researchers

Research FellowshipsTo move us forward in finding treatments, the Foundation has selected five outstanding researchers as recipients of the 2015 PKD Foundation Fellowships. The fellowships recognize early-career scientists whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars – the next generation of scientific leaders in PKD research. Each fellow receives $50,000 a year for two years, totaling a half-million dollars.


"The caliber of applicants was very impressive. This fellowship aims to attract promising trainees who will obtain significant research experience as they initiate and – we hope – spend long and productive careers in PKD research," said Terry Watnick, M.D., PKD Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee Chair. "The PKD Foundation wants to foster research to further our understanding of the physiological, biochemical and genetic mechanisms of PKD, and this is a key way to accomplish that."


Read a Q&A from fellowship mentor Stefan Somlo, M.D.


Fellowship recipients

Whitney BesseWhitney Besse, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine
Genetic mechanisms of cyst pathogenesis in polycystic liver and kidney diseases

Dr. Besse earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Brown University, a medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and completed residencies in internal medicine and nephrology at the Yale School of Medicine. Her mentor, Stefan Somlo, M.D., is director of the Center for Polycystic Disease Research at Yale School of Medicine.

Read more about Dr. Besse

Marcelo CassiniMarcelo Cassini, M.D., Ph.D.
Yale School of Medicine
Can Mcp1 knock-out and blockage of macrophage receptor CCR2 alter the outcome of polycystic kidney disease?

Dr. Cassini earned an M.S. degree in kidney transplantation and a Ph.D. in kidney injury from the University of Sao Paulo – Brazil. He received his medical degree at Federal Fluminense University in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil and completed residency training in surgery and urology at State University of Rio de Janeiro. His research is under the guidance of mentor Lloyd Cantley, M.D., at Yale School of Medicine.

Read more about Dr. Cassini

Jeong-In BaekJeong-In Baek, Ph.D.
Medical University of South Carolina
The role of Tuba in ciliogenesis and cytogenesis

Dr. Baek is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology, a master's degree in molecular biology, and a Ph.D. in human genetics from Kyungpook National University in South Korea. She has authored over 21 publications (nine as first author). Her research is under the mentorship of Joshua Lipschutz, M.D., internationally known expert in renal ciliogenesis and PKD.

Jacqueline PedaJacqueline Peda, Ph.D.
University of Kansas Medical Center
The regulation of cardiac remodeling by PC1 and SMYD1 in polycystic kidney disease

Dr. Peda earned her B.S. in biology at Washburn University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in pathology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is pursuing post-doctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. Xiaogang Li at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Irfana SoomroIrfana Soomro, MBBS
New York University Langone Medical Center
Targeting glutamine metabolism as a potential treatment for ADPKD

Dr. Soomro earned her MBBS (bachelor of medicine/surgery) at Dow Medical College – Karachi, Pakistan. She is a clinical instructor in the division of nephrology at New York University Langone Medical Center, Bellevue Hospital Medical Center. Her research is under the mentorship of Edward Skolnik, M.D., director of the Division of Nephrology

The request for applications (RFA) was released in January with an April deadline. Applicants were evaluated by the PKD Foundation’s Grants Review Committee, comprised of members of the Scientific Advisory Committee and independent outside reviewers. Applications were given a priority score based on the scientific merit of the project, its relevance to PKD research, and the training potential of the applicant. Funding of awards was based on the priority score, the recommendations of the Grants Review Committee and Scientific Advisory Committee leadership, and the availability of funds.

Recipients plan to attend (upon invitation) the PKD National Convention 2016 in Orlando to present their work. They will also submit mid-cycle and final reports to update us on their progress.

Since its founding in 1982, the PKD Foundation has invested more than $40 million in research, clinical and scientific grants, fellowships and scientific meetings, making it the largest private funder of PKD research. We will begin accepting new fellowship applications in 2017.

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©2019, PKD Foundation ·The PKD Foundation is a 501 (c)(3), 509 (a)(1) public charity.

©2019, PKD Foundation ·The PKD Foundation is a 501 (c)(3), 509 (a)(1) public charity.