Dr. Rachel Lennon, a researcher at the University of Manchester, in the U.K., has been awarded a £1.7 million (nearly $2.2 million) Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science for work that might identify therapeutic targets for the treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
“I am honoured to have been awarded the Senior Research Fellowship and I hope that findings from the research we undertake throughout the next five years will go on to help patients and their families in the future. Kidney disease significantly restricts a patient’s lifestyle,” Lennon said in a press release.
Lennon works between the Centre for Cell-Matrix Research and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), where she serves as a consultant pediatric nephrologist. She was also awarded an Intermediate Clinical Fellowship by Wellcome in 2010.
The Senior Research Fellowship program funds five years of research, giving clinical academics an opportunity to establish themselves as leading investigators.
Lennon will use the fellowship to focus on targeting force regulation to treat CKD in adults and children. Blood vessels in the kidney filters are made of cells that are supported by a scaffold called matrix – and the cells and matrix need to sense and control changes in blood pressure in the filters. Lennon and her team will be focused on how those filters work.
“In the past, using specialized techniques such as proteomics and powerful microscopy, we have expanded understanding about the important cell and matrix molecules in the kidney filters, and we have identified novel features of early kidney disease. However, we still need to understand why these changes happen,” she said.
“I now propose that the connections between cells and matrix in the kidney filters are critical to counterbalance mechanical forces in the blood vessels, and if the connections are disrupted there is a cascade that leads to scarring and loss of kidney function,” she added. “In this fellowship my team will work out how force is regulated in the filters using cell and mouse models of kidney disease … [with potential] to treat chronic kidney disease in children and adults.”
A video explaining the importance of these filters in the human kidney is available for viewing below.