Yuting Zeng, a graduate student in Assistant Professor Ashleigh Theberge’s group, was accepted into the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney STARS program.
The ASN Kidney STARS program stimulates interest in nephrology careers by providing tailored events and networking opportunities for medical students, residents, and graduate students with an interest in nephrology who have not yet committed to applying to a fellowship or pursuing kidney research.
Yuting is in the third year of her PhD program and has already realized her career goal of translating her benchwork to people with diseases and is focusing on focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that affects the filters in kidneys. Her work, highlighted in a first-authored abstract submitted to the 2021 ASN meeting, investigates the crosstalk between injured podocytes and neighboring parietal epithelial cells (PECs).
“An unmet scientific need has been a lack of appropriate cell culture models to address this important pathogenic question,” Yuting wrote in her STARS program application.
“My research uses an open microfluidic device as an in vitro coculture model of the two glomerular cell types, aiming to recapitulate the microenvironment of FSGS. PECs and podocytes are first cultured in separate chambers, podocytes are injured with cytotoxic sheep anti-glomerular antibodies, and the chambers are then connected to initiate coculture. My preliminary results indicate a successful podocyte-PEC coculture model to study pathways involved in crosstalk, disease mechanisms, and drug screening.”
The Kidney STARS program provides Yuting with a forum for direct feedback on her current research, while also enabling networking with kidney researchers and women in nephrology. Through this program, Yuting aims to learn new ways to translate her benchwork to answer important clinical questions.
Yuting attended the virtual ASN Annual Meeting during Kidney Week, November 4-6, 2021, and received complimentary membership to the society as part of the Kidney STARS program.