• This Site
  • All C&T Science Resources
Wordpress Facebook You Tube Twitter

Susan Ingraham, MD, PhD

Award Name TL1


Congenital Obstructive Nephropathy

Susan Ingraham, MD, PhD, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital was a 2010-2011 CCTS TL1 awardee, and has recently received an NIH K08 award through the NIDDK for her work in pediatric nephrology.

She is interested in a particular type of kidney disease. “Congenital obstructive nephropathy is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease in children,” Ingraham said. “It’s the biggest reason for children requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.” Congenital obstructive nephropathy refers to the changes that occur in the kidney when there is a blockage in the urine outflow track. She is studying what happens in the kidney at a molecular and cellular level as the result of problems with urine flow beginning in utero.

She is particularly interested in identifying microRNA and mRNA changes that characterize different degrees of disease severity. In order to do this, Ingraham is looking at these changes in a mouse model that is called the megabladder mouse. She is also looking at samples from pediatric patients.

Ingraham’s interest stems from her work with patients. She is a clinician as well as a researcher. “As a clinician, I’m continually frustrated by our impaired ability to diagnose the condition, to treat the condition and to give parents and patients an idea of the prognosis because the course of the disease is so variable. One of my primary long term goals is to identify better biomarkers, therapeutic interventions and generally improve our ability to care for patients.” she said.

Other long term goals include to better understand the physiological and pathological changes that occur in the kidney. Starting at the molecular and cellular level, Ingraham hopes to map out pathways and interactions involved in development and progression of the kidney disease, which results in kidney dysfunction and fibrosis.

Ingraham is accomplishing this by doing preliminary screening of microRNA and tissue from the mouse kidney. “I’m doing microarrays at different developmental stages of the disease, looking at differential expression of microRNA and mRNA,” she said. “For genes altered in expression, we are validating and further characterizing using quantitative PCR and then we’re moving on from that into both subcellular localization as well as trying to characterize whether those mRNAs or microRNAs or related proteins are secreted into the urine of the mouse or in human patients.”

Her TL1 award provided the support to develop and validate the methods for assessment of microRNA levels in urine samples, allowing her to generate the preliminary data for her K08 application. In the process, she identified several specific microRNAs that seem to be involved in the pathology of congenital obstructive nephropathy.

“It has been much more challenging than expected to look at the microRNAs in the urine because it is such a new area of research,” Ingraham said, “and there is little known about urinary microRNAs.” She is grateful for gaining new colleagues and collaborators and she looks forward to being able to publish major findings shortly. She has gained a close relationship with her mentor Kirk McHugh, PhD, a professor in Anatomy and Pediatrics, and her other colleagues. She has also gained a greater appreciation of the complex interactions occurring in the kidney at a molecular level.

Having been awarded the K08 grant in July 2011 and beginning the research when her funding began in September of 2011, Ingraham is continuing work on her five year grant and will look at different compartments within the kidney to better characterize gene and microRNA expression. She wants to further study and understand the complex array of pathways, interactions and mechanisms that are involved in the kidney’s response to congenital urinary obstruction in order to identify potential biomarkers of disease progression and possible therapeutic targets.

By Nuala McSweeney, Monday, April 16, 2012

Back to Top New Information

See Older News