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Partnership Arising From Mentorship Program Generates Investigation Into Hypertensive Nephrosclerosis Using Digital Spatial Profiling 

ISN Mentee Emmy Bell with ISN President and Mentor, Agnes Fogo

The ISN Mentorship Program supports mutual learning partnerships within the ISN global community. Mentees work toward specific professional goals, while mentors develop coaching and leadership skills.

Since December 2021, ISN mentee Dr. Emmy Bell, a nephrology specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Alabama, USA, has benefitted from the expertise and experience of ISN President and mentor Agnes Fogo, professor of renal pathology at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Dr. Bell runs the renal biopsy conference for the nephrology division at UAB.  She wanted guidance to plan for clinical research on kidney biopsies from patients with hypertension-associated disease to gain insights into potential mechanisms and better prognostication to improve patient care.

The mentorship pair had regular zoom meetings and email exchanges to discuss how Dr. Bell could reach her goals and contribute to the care of patients with kidney disease. Together they developed a translational project combining renal pathology and patient clinical kidney outcomes to investigate hypertension-associated disease pathophysiology.

Hypertension-associated kidney diseases are an important contributor to chronic kidney disease in the Southern states, disparately affecting Black patients. At Professor Fogo’s suggestion, Dr. Bell will apply a relatively new technique, digital spatial profiling, to analyze this common disease.

According to Dr. Bell, “The University of Minnesota Spatialomics program will use NanoString GeoMx® software to interrogate the mRNA transcriptional signatures in regions of interest in the kidney biopsy specimens we provide. The findings may differentiate molecular mechanisms that drive the clinical phenotype heterogeneity.”

Dr. Bell is currently refining the experimental design, recruiting statisticians and panelists to collaborate on the project, and seeking support from the UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Professor Fogo commented on the outcome of the mentorship collaboration, “Dr. Bell was enthusiastic, responsive to different suggestions and ideas, creative and energetic. She has done a good job learning about possible new techniques to explore her goals to increase understanding of prognostic markers and potential mechanisms of progressive kidney disease associated with hypertension. It has been a privilege to interact with her.”

Would you like help with a research project or other professional development goal? Find out more about the ISN mentorship program here.

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