2016 Krescent New Investigator Awards

Dr. Moumita BaruaBarua M

University Health Network - Toronto

Molecular Diagnosis in Adult-onset Familial and Sporadic Focal and Segmental Glomerulosclerosis

2016-2019:  $210,000
2016-2017:  $25,000 (Krescent Infrastructure Support)
Category:  Genetics

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, where individuals with genetic conditions affecting the kidney are seen. She is 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. Affected individuals manifest with abnormal protein loss in their urine, leading to a constellation of symptoms collectively called nephrotic syndrome comprising edema, vulnerability to infection and hypercoagulability. 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. Past low throughput screens consisting of only a few genes due to constraints of sequencing technology and the rareness of each genetic cause have been a limiting factor in advancing the field and generating knowledge to inform clinical practice. 
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 KonvalinkaA. Konvalinka
University Health Network - Toronto


Systems biology approaches to decipher novel mechanisms and markers of antibody mediated rejection in kidney transplantation

2016-2019: $210,000
2016-2017:  $25,000 (Krescent Infrastructure Support)
Category: Transplantation

Dr. Ana Konvalinka is a nephrologist and a Clinician Scientist at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network. She completed Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto, and began medical studies at the University of Ottawa in 1998. In 2003, she returned to Toronto for internal medicine and nephrology subspecialty training, which she completed in 2008. She subsequently embarked on a PhD in basic science at the University of Toronto, and was admitted to the Clinician Scientist Training Program and 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. The main findings of the work were published in Journal of Biological Chemistry. Dr. Konvalinka successfully defended her PhD in 2013, and then went on to complete kidney transplant fellowship at Toronto General Hospital. Her main clinical and research interests are in antibody-mediated rejection and kidney allograft fibrosis, but she also studies native kidney disease. She utilizes systems biology approaches and proteomics to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms, derive novel markers and to repurpose drugs for treatment of kidney disease. Dr. Konvalinka also leads the Multi-Organ Transplant biobank, which banks tissue and biofluids for kidney, pancreas and liver programs.

Dr. Amber MolnarMolnar

McMaster University - Hamilton

The association of beta blocker use with mortality in patients with heart failure and severe chronic kidney disease

2016-2019:  $210,000
2016-2017:  $25,000 (Krescent Infrastructure Support)
Category:  Chronic Kidney Disease

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. 

Dr. Kara Schick-MarakoffSchickMakaroff

University of Alberta - Edmonton

Electronic patient-reported outcomes in clinical kidney practice (ePRO Kidney)

2016-2019:  $195,000 (Can-SOLVE CKD Krescent New Investigator)
2016-2017:  $25,000 (Krescent Infrastructure Support)
Category:  Quality of Life

Dr. Kara Schick-Makaroff is a New Investigator in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. She obtained her PhD from the University of Victoria in 2011. She completed her Post Doctoral Fellowship (2011-2015), funded by the KRESCENT program, with Dr. Anita Molzahn at the University of Alberta. Building on her Post Doctoral research, Dr. Schick-Makaroff’s research program 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. The purpose of Dr. Schick-Makaroff’s research is to study the impact of routine use of patient-reported outcomes data in kidney care and influence positive change in health services. Her research program, “Electronic Patient-Reported Outcomes in Clinical Kidney Practice (ePRO Kidney)” is supported through a KRESCENT New Investigator award (2016-2019).

2016 Krescent Post Doctoral Fellowship Recipient

Dr. Yulu-Cherry LiuLiu

Harvard Medical School - Boston USA

Understanding chronic kidney disease caused by defective retrograde trafficking in the primary cilia and devising strategies to correct it

2016-2019:  $165,000
Category:  Chronic Kidney Disease

Dr. Liu will complete her Post-Doctoral Fellowship under the supervsion of Dr. Adrian Salic at Harvard Medical School where she will study retrograde trafficking defects in cilia. Dr. Liu obtained her Ph.D in Pharmacetical Sciences at the University of Toronto.

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