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Justin Chun, MD

Supervisor: Dr. Martin Pollak
Award: KRESCENT Fellowship
Institution: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School
Year: 2016-2019

Dr. Justin Chun will pursue his post-doctoral fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Martin Pollak at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Chun will use novel imaging techniques such as super-resolution microscopy to characterize the podocyte slit diaphragm and mutations that cause Focal Segmental GlomeruloSclerosis (FSGS).

Mutations or injury to specialized kidney cells called podocytes can lead to disruption of the kidney's filtration barrier and diseases such as FSGS. Identifying the causes of – and developing treatments for – FSGS has been difficult, due in part to the limitations of experimental methods and models used to study the kidney. Our goal is to combine innovative, state-of-the-art imaging techniques with improved experimental models of the kidney to characterize the podocyte's ultrastructure and how genetic mutations and injury lead to FSGS. We plan to use super-resolution microscopy, an imaging technique awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2014, to study molecules regulating nano-scale renal architecture. In addition, we will use kidney organoids grown from human stem cells combined with gene editing to study the podocyte slit diaphragm. An improved understanding of the molecular machinery regulating the podocyte slit diaphragm will help identify therapeutic targets to treat FSGS.