Pediatric Nephrology Researchers Awarded NIH R25 Grant to Mentor and Train Next Generation of Kidney Researchers

March 23, 2021

Researchers from the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the adult Renal-Electrolyte Division at UPMC Presbyterian were recently awarded a National Institutes of Health R25 grant that will fund a training program designed to mentor undergraduate students in kidney-based research.

Co-principal investigators of the grant include assistant professor of Pediatrics, Sunder Sims-Lucas, PhD, who studies the basic science of acute kidney injury (AKI), and Carlton M. Bates, MD, division chief of pediatric nephrology at UPMC Children’s, whose research is focused on acute bladder injury.

Their R25 award supports the development of an undergraduate training program called “Summer Research Internship Program Kidney Workshop (SRIP-Kid).

The new training program will allow undergraduate students interested in kidney-based research to travel to the University of Pittsburgh and take part in a 10-week program where they will perform research and receive didactic instruction on a range of topics in nephrology from researchers and physicians in the Division of Pediatric Nephrology and collaborators in the adult Renal-Electrolyte Division and Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The program has a significant emphasis on recruiting undergraduate students from racial and ethnic groups that are under-represented as scientists.

“For many kidney conditions, like acute kidney injury that my laboratory studies, we still have yet to develop effective therapies. We continue to learn a great deal, but we need the next generation of researchers and doctors to join the cause and lead the science forward. Our new training program will afford a number of talented students the ability to work and learn alongside some of the most respected kidney researchers in the world and, we hope, inspire them to continue with a career in science and nephrology," says Dr. Sims-Lucas.

SRIP-Kid Program Highlights

The goals of the SRIP-Kid program will be achieved by providing novel didactics on renal topics and career advice to participants. Faculty members participating in the program will meet weekly with all students to provide a one-hour didactic session on a renal topic followed by a 30-minute discussion on a pertinent paper and discuss career options as a nephrology researcher. The program also will provide research training under the mentorship of the world-class kidney researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. A multimedia platform specifically designed for this program will act as an interface for future, current, and past students. SRIP-Kid participants each will be matched with one of the training faculty to pursue a research project. Given the breadth of faculty research interests at the University of Pittsburgh, students will have the opportunity to work on a laboratory-based project or a patient-oriented research project. At the end of the 10-week program, the students will present their work as an oral presentation. Upon completion of the SRIP-Kid summer program, students will have been exposed to a wide array of kidney-based research topics, nationally respected clinician-scientists and PhD scientists, and a specific kidney-based research project

“Dr. Sims-Lucas was the driving force behind this project and its ultimate funding. We both share similar passions for and dedication to mentoring young researchers in the field of pediatric nephrology. To our knowledge, we are the only pediatric nephrology program in which an award like this one is centered, and we are excited to marshal the necessary resources and collaborations to make such a learning experience possible for young students. Our entire Division is tremendously excited to take part in the experience, and I congratulate Dr. Sims-Lucas for making it a reality,” says Dr. Bates.