Renal Scientists

Introduction

Welcome to the renal scientists' working party (RSWP) resource. The RSWP is committed to raising awareness and improving networking / collaboration between renal scientists working in the UK and further afield.  We help develop the clinical-laboratory science balance at The Renal Association's annual meeting and are very keen to enable as many young renal scientists as possible to submit their excellent research and apply for the highly competitive Young Renal Scientist's award.  For the past few years we have been working to host educational events such as careers' focused workshops and technical skills-based events

We are always keen to recruit active new members and please do get in touch if you are interested in contributing to the work of RSWP. a.j.mcknight@qub.ac.uk

Recent Activity

A new database from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences of the University of Glasgow.

This is an open access piece of useful information for any researcher to interrogate, if they want to see where molecules pop up, or where animal models exist, for example.

It integrates transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic studies gathered from literature and manually curated, with demographic data for chronic kidney disease.
The database will allow a data-driven approach to the development of disease models that could potentially pave the way for the discovery of new biomarkers and drug targets in CKD. It has been developed by Marco Fernandes, a PhD student.
Access the database here

RA 2014
Please come and joint us at the dedicated careers session for renal scientists at 5.45 pm in the Carron room on Thursday 1st May in SECC, Glasgow!  Prof Cornall will be sharing his thoughts on research applications, while two renal scientists will talk about their successful fellowship awards.  There should be plenty of time for networking and this is a great opportunity to ask questions from those who have 'been there and done that'.
 
 

Activity

Young Scientist's Awards

The Renal Association award for the Young Renal Scientist was established in 2005 to highlight the work of best basic scientists working in kidney research in the UK. No matter what your field, if its kidney related you can apply. You need to be under 35, have less than 5 years postdoctoral experience and not be qualified to practice medicine in the UK. Applications are strongly encouraged from PhD students and technical staff. All abstracts submitted for the prize will be reviewed by a special panel of senior UK scientists and top-ranked applications are selected from a prestigious oral presentation at the Annual Conference.  Each individual shortlisted will receive a certificate and the winner of the Young Renal Scientist award is selected following their presentation on the day.  Having your abstract put forward for the young scientist award does not exclude it from the standard review process and it will still be considered for both free communications and poster presentation irrespective. This is a very prestigious award and the most strongly contested of any Renal Association award. This award was introduced so that our top young basic scientists had a mark of recognition from their peers which could be used to strengthen applications for fellowships at all levels; applications are strongly encouraged!

Previous Winners

2006 - Elina Prodromidi
2007 - Dia Chavele
2008 - Maria Fragiadaki
2009 - Shuang Feng 
2010 - Robert Jenkins
2012 - John Atkinson (Elizabeth Swan, Simon Freeley, Sahithi Kuravi, John Atkinson shortlisted)
2013 - Dr Neil Roberts (John Atkinson, Florence Johnson, Neil Roberts, Jennifer Huang shortlisted)
2014 - Lucy Newbury (Alicja Czopek, Lucy Newbury, Nicola Hill, Seamus Duffy shortlisted)

Early Career Scientist’s Award

2016 – Adam Midgley (Lucy Newbury, Agnieszka Bierzynska, Rebecca Moorhouse shortlisted)

scientist  scientist 2
Remember, there are additional awards from The Renal Association...

Renal Scientist's Working Party Membership

The working party currently comprises 8 scientists who are all keen to give a stronger voice to scientist members of the Renal Association.  We need your help to let us know what would be useful to renal scientists in the UK so please do get in touch!  RSWP is represented on the research, executive, education and training committees of The Renal Association. 

Amy Jayne (AJ) McKnight PhD (2010-)

a.j.mcknight@qub.ac.uk  I joined the RSWP in 2010 as the Northern Ireland representative and was elected into the chair after receiving the AEG Raine Award in 2012.  Our group's research is focused on genetic and epigenetic factors that influence renal disease, in particular diabetic nephropathy and end stage renal disease cohorts.  We are involved with multiple international consortia and conduct smaller-scale to whole genome studies in Belfast.  There are many excellent renal scientists working in the UK and I'm very keen that their voice is heard and that we are enabling the next generation of young renal scientists to excel.  I chaired the RA scientific program organising committee for UK Renal Week 2014, along with Mark Dockrell, Jill Norman and Alan Salama (Mark and I also worked on the 2013 organising committee); please do let us know what topics you would like covered in future years!  Would training sessions / more career’s events be useful? Should we invite more industrial speakers?  What fields would you like to hear about?  Suggestions for inspirational keynote speakers at our Young Scientist session are very welcome.
 

Tim Bowen (2012-)

bowent@cf.ac.uk  My current position is non-clinical Senior Lecturer in Matrix and Molecular Biology at the Institute of Nephrology, Cardiff University School of Medicine.  In 1991, I began my postdoctoral studies with a project investigating the molecular evolution of the ribosomal DNA multigene family in Drosophila melanogaster at the Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, moving to the University of Leicester where supervisor Gabby Dover took up the Chair in Genetics in 1992.  Since November 1994, I have been located at Cardiff University School of Medicine.  Between 1994 and March 2000, I worked on genetic variation in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in projects led by Mike Owen, Mick O’Donovan and Nick Craddock at the Department of Psychological Medicine.  During this period, I developed an interest in the relationship between factors controlling gene expression and disease susceptibility in complex disorders.

In April 2000 I moved to the Institute of Nephrology to work on a peritoneal dialysis-based project investigating the role of the extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan (HA) in human peritoneal mesothelial cell regeneration.  Determination of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying renal fibrosis and the progression of chronic kidney disease is another core research theme at the Institute; fibrosis is associated with increased cortical HA synthesis.  My research now focuses on the regulation of gene expression in renal disease.  Current research interests include the transcriptional regulation of the expression of genes associated with fibrosis, including members of the human HA synthase (HAS) multigene family that encode the HA-synthesizing HAS enzymes.  Other ongoing studies are looking at post-transcriptional regulation of fibrosis-associated gene expression by both long noncoding RNAs such as the natural antisense transcript to HAS2, HAS2-AS1, and short noncoding microRNAs.  The utility of urinary microRNAs as renal disease biomarkers is also under investigation.  The above work has been carried out with Institute of Nephrology colleagues John Williams, Malcolm Davies, Nick Topley, Aled Phillips, Bob Steadman and Donald Fraser, as well as other key collaborators.

Having recently joined the Renal Scientists’ Working Party, I look forward to championing the role of non-clinical scientists in renal research and highlighting the importance of our work in the emerging translational landscape.

Mark Dockrell (2009-)

Mark Dockrell directs the work carried out at the SWT Institute for Renal Research. After gaining his PhD from the University of Edinburgh Mark did his post-doctoral research with Professor Bruce Hendry’s group at King’s College London before moving further south to the Institute. Established by a patient-led charity and opened in 1998, the Institute currently has 2 main research streams; the cell biology of renal fibrosis and biomarkers of renal disease. However, these streams are not parallel but intersecting; with results identifying proteins involved in mechanisms of disease feeding into potential markers of progression and the presence of signalling proteins in urine challenging conceptions of their role in health and disease.

A longstanding interest in intracellular signalling molecules as putative targets for therapy has driven the on-going research in both canonical and non-canonical TGFβ-induced signalling cascades in human tubule and glomerular epithelial cells regulating fibrotic and nephrotoxic outcomes. There are also strands of work investigating intercellular pro-fibrotic signalling such as the regulation of TGFβ induction and activation as well as the role of downstream regulators such as BMP7, CTGF/CCN2 and CCN3.

Following the pioneering work of the Institute’s first scientific director Dr David Newman on the use of Cystatin C as an improved marker of renal function the current work has continued to look for new and improved ways of determining renal function and predicting decline.  The iohexol finger-prick technique has made measuring true GFR more convenient, particularly for patients where the current equations for eGFR have not been fully validated.  Whereas the search for novel urinary biomarkers or new panels of biomarkers continues with a particular focus on diabetic renal disease and interstitial fibrosis with tubular atrophy post-transplant.  Mark collaborates widely with groups in the UK, Europe and the US.

 

 Donald Fraser ()

 Prabal (Charley) Chatterjee (2012-)

 Gavin Welsh (2012-)

 

Jill Norman PhD (2005-)

 Jill Norman PhD

Heather Wilson PhD (2006-)

I have been involved in renal research at the University of Aberdeen for many years. My early postdoctoral years focussed on the pathophysiology of glomerulonephritis and its progression to end stage renal disease. I focussed specifically on the effects of selected mediators on controlling glomerular extracellular matrix turnover and how an increased deposition and/or decreased degradation by serine proteases and metalloproteinases resulted in renal scarring. A joint grant with Professor Andy Rees focussed my research interests to the earlier inflammatory stage of nephritis and the factors controlling glomerular inflammation in experimental models. My current research is primarily directed towards understanding the signalling pathways that control macrophage activation, especially in rodent models of nephritis, and how these pathways can be manipulated to divert macrophage activation to exploit their reparative attributes and restore regulation to the inflammatory response. I am also defining how the reparative properties can be enhanced to improve wound healing and how a newly discovered drug can be developed for use in inflammatory disorders.

I joined the Renal Scientists Working Party as the Scottish representative. A strong aim of our group is to strengthen the voice of renal scientists and help them gain recognition for their contributions to research as they bridge the gap with clinicians to support advances in translational medicine. I have been particularly impressed with how the committee has already significantly raised the profile of renal scientists in Britain and encouraged and facilitated their attendance to Renal Association meetings. They aim to continue to make changes within the RA to meet the needs and interests of scientists. By providing a network of renal scientists in both industry and academia and an opportunity to get together, we can promote collaborations, as well as the exchange of ideas and state-of-the-art techniques / advances in the field of renal research. This is essential if we are to enhance the careers of renal scientists and help achieve recognition of their own independent research groups.

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