Post-Doctoral Fellowships


Dr. Justin Chun, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School
Supervisor: Dr. Martin Pollak


Dr. Justin Chun will pursue his post-doctoral fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Martin Pollak at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. Dr. Chun will use novel imaging techniques such as super-resolution microscopy to characterize the podocyte slit diaphragm and mutations that cause focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).

Mutations or injury to specialized kidney cells called podocytes can lead to disruptions of the kidney's filtration barrier and diseases such as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Identifying the causes and developing treatments for FSGS has been difficult in part due to the limitations of the experimental methods and models used to study the kidney. Our goal is to combine innovative, state-of-the-art imaging techniques with improved experimental models of the kidney to characterize the podocyte's ultrastructure and how genetic mutations and injury lead to FSGS. We plan to use super-resolution microscopy, an imaging technique awarded the Noble Prize in Chemistry in 2014, to study molecules regulating kidney architecture at the nanoscale. In addition, we will use kidney organoids grown from human stem cells combined with gene editing to study the podocyte slit diaphragm. An improved understanding of the molecular machinery regulating the podocyte slit diaphragm will help to identify therapeutic targets to treat FSGS.


Dr. Yulu Cherry Liu
Harvard Medical School
Supervisor:  Dr. Adrian Salic


Dr. Liu will complete her Post-Doctoral Fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Adrian Salic at Harvard Medical School where she will study retrograde trafficking defects in cilia. Dr. Liu obtained her Ph.D in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto.
Cilia are small structures present on the surface of all cells in the human body, functioning as “cellular antennas” that detect and interpret various environmental signals that cells must respond to. Cilia are vital for proper development and function of organs and tissues. Cilia defects lead to a set of human diseases called ciliopathies, which encompass a wide spectrum of symptoms, including retinal degeneration, polycystic kidney, and skeletal abnormalities. In spite of their critical importance, how cilia defects cause disease remains poorly understood. The aim of Dr. Liu’s research is to understand how mutations that affect a critical ciliary process called retrograde trafficking, impair communication between cells. Dr. Liu’s long-term goal is to understand how retrograde trafficking defects in cilia lead to kidney disorders, and to develop treatments to correct such defects.

New Investigator Awards


Dr. Moumita Barua
University Health Network
University of Toronto


Dr. Moumita Barua is a Clinician Scientist and Assistant Professor in the Division of Nephrology at University Health Network and the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto.  She is Associate Director of the Hereditary Kidney Disease Clinic and a Scientist within the Advanced Diagnostics Division at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Barua completed a KRESCENT postdoctoral research fellowship in one of the leading laboratories in genetic kidney disease at Brigham & Women’s Hospital & Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Barua’s primary research focus is focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a disorder characterized by abnormalities of the kidney filter. More than 50% of patients with FSGS will not respond to standard immunosuppressive treatment, progressing to kidney failure necessitating dialysis or transplantation. Mutations in more than 40 genes have been found in FSGS and the list continues to grow. Despite advances in the understanding of the genetic causes of disease, there remain significant gaps in knowledge, which limits diagnostic and treatment capability. Dr. Barua’s laboratory focuses on developing next-generation sequencing based testing as a diagnostic clinical tool while leveraging it to discover new FSGS genes. Ultimately, her laboratory aims to translate research findings to help guide interpretation of genetic testing in the clinical setting to personalize the care of patients with FSGS in reaching diagnoses, selecting suitable at-risk kidney donors and tailoring treatment options. The laboratory also uses clinically relevant genetic models for mechanistic based studies with the eventual goal of developing targeted therapies to halt or delay disease progression.


Dr. Ana Konvalinka MD PhD FRCPC
University Health Network, University of Toronto


Dr. Ana Konvalinka is a nephrologist and clinician scientist at the University Health Network, and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. She completed training in nephrology and clinical transplantation in Toronto. She also completed a PhD in basic science at the University of Toronto, as well as the Clinician Scientist Training Program and the Clinician Investigator Program. The topic of her PhD work was the effect of angiotensin II on the proteome of primary human proximal tubular cells, and the relevance of this effect in vivo. During her PhD, she developed expertise in inflammatory and fibrotic mechanisms of kidney disease progression, as well as in proteomics and systems biology approaches. Dr. Konvalinka currently leads the Multi-Organ Transplant biobank, which encompasses kidney, pancreas and liver programs.

Dr. Konvalinka’s main clinical and research interests are in antibody-mediated rejection. Antibody-mediated rejection is the leading cause of premature kidney allograft loss. Pathophysiology of antibody-mediated rejection is incompletely understood and therapeutic options are limited. This type of rejection is linked to antibodies directed against the donor allograft, however, not all antibodies lead to allograft injury. Dr. Konvalinka will utilize systems biology and proteomics approaches to identify antibodies that cause graft injury by studying human tissues and cells. She will develop improved tests for monitoring such antibody-mediated graft injury, as well as identify potential new treatments of antibody-mediated rejection.


Dr. Kara Schick-Makaroff
University of Alberta


Dr. Kara Schick-Makaroff is a New Investigator at the University of Alberta. She obtained her PhD in Nursing from the University of Victoria. She completed her Post Doctoral Fellowship, funded by the KRESCENT program, with Dr. Anita Molzahn at the University of Alberta.

Building on her Post Doctoral research, Dr. Schick-Makaroff’s program of research broadly focuses on enhancing quality of life, enriching person-centred care, and improving services for people affected by chronic kidney disease. This illness significantly impacts peoples’ views of their health, emotions, work, and relationships. Clinicians need patients’ views about how chronic kidney disease impacts their overall life so that they can respond to any concerns. One way to do this is to use patient-reported outcomes that ask people to share the impact of an illness on their life. Examples of patient-reported outcomes include surveys asking about quality of life or symptoms. Patient-reported outcomes provide vital and often missing information to the healthcare team. The purpose of Dr. Schick-Makaroff’s research is to study the impact of routine use of electronically provided patient-reported outcomes data in kidney care settings and to influence positive change in health services. Findings of this research may ultimately improve the quality of health services for Canadians living with chronic kidney disease.


Dr. Amber Molnar
MacMaster University


Dr. Amber Molnar is a new investigator and nephrologist (Assistant Professor, Division of Nephrology) at McMaster University/St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. She completed her fellowship in Nephrology and Master of Science in Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Molnar is a graduate of the KRESCENT Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2013-2015) under the mentorship of Drs. Greg Knoll and Carl van Walraven.

Dr. Molnar’s research focuses on improving the care of patients with chronic kidney disease, with a particular focus on cardiovascular complications and improving pre-dialysis care. Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and congestive heart failure. Despite this well known increased risk, patients with CKD are commonly excluded from cardiovascular therapeutic trials. Dr. Molnar will utilize healthcare administrative databases in the province of Ontario to study the effectiveness and safety of commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications in the CKD population. Her research findings will ultimately help guide the design of cardiovascular therapeutic trials in patients with CKD.

The KRESCENT Program is a Strategic Training Program developed and supported by:


With additional generous support from:

AMGEN               Baxter Corporation               Merck-Frosst Canada Ltd.             Ortho Biotech              RocheShire BioChem Inc.

© 2005 The Kidney Foundation of Canada