Post Doctoral Fellowships
Dr. Ngan Lam, M.D.
Lawson Health Research Institute
Supervisor : Dr. Amit Garg


Dr. Ngan Lam will complete her Post-Doctoral Fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Amit Garg at the London Health Sciences Centre where she will study how to prevent kidney injury in patients receiving antiviral drugs for herpes infection. Dr. Lam obtained her M.D. at the University of Toronto and is currently working on her Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University.

Shingles, a type of herpes, is a condition that appears as painful sores or rashes on the skin caused by the chicken pox virus and are common among older people. Although effective in the treatment of shingles, acyclovir can form crystals in the kidneys causing them to stop working properly. Famciclovir however, similar to acyclovir in its treatment, does not appear to have the same damaging effects on the kidneys. The aim of Dr. Lam’s research is to study the risk of kidney injury from certain drugs used to treat shingles by observing all older patients in Ontario who were prescribed these drugs.

Her goal is to understand how widespread this problem is and how the risk with acyclovir compares to that with famciclovir. This is an important area of research since the number of people over age 65 will increase to almost 6 million in Canada by the year 2016, with over 126,000 people being treated with these types of drugs on an annual basis. The findings will better inform doctors and their patients about the potential risks of acyclovir. This may help prevent kidney injury in the future as doctors may choose to monitor their patients more carefully or decide to use other drugs.



Dr. Chris Wiebe, M.D.
University of Manitoba
Supervisor: Dr Peter Nickerson


Dr. Wiebe will complete his Post-Doctoral Fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Peter Nickerson at the University of Manitoba, where he will study the correlation of immune targets with the development of new donor antibodies after a kidney transplant. During his Post Doctoral Fellowship Dr. Chris Wiebe will pursue his Master’s at the University of Manitoba. He received his M.D. from the University of Manitoba.

A kidney transplant is currently the best option for patients who develop kidney failure. Unfortunately, for many patients the long-term success of kidney transplantation is shortened due to the recipient’s immune system attacking the donor’s kidney. In recent years, scientists have discovered that one of the most important predictors of a failed kidney transplant is the development of antibodies, a protein produced by the body's immune system when it detects harmful substances or mistakenly considers healthy tissue a harmful substance.

Dr. Wiebe’s project focuses on discovering which specific targets are the most likely to initiate an immune attack against a donor’s kidney by comparing the targets of transplant patients who developed antibodies with patients who did not.

Findings would allow doctors to avoid these targets resulting in a better and long lasting kidney transplant, and understanding the most important targets could help them decide which patients are likely to benefit from a reduction of their immune suppressing medications.



New Investigator Awards
  Dr. Sacha De Serres, M.D.
Laval University

Cofunded by FRSQ


Dr. Sacha De Serres is a new investigator at Laval University (Quebec City). He obtained his M.D. at Université de Montréal and trained in Internal Medicine and Nephrology at Laval University. He then completed a KRESCENT Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Transplantation Immunology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University (Boston, Mass), in Dr. Nader Najafian’s laboratory. Dr. De Serres research focuses on the role of the immune system in transplantation.

The aim of his research is to study the role monocytes, a specific population of white blood cell, in organ rejection. More precisely, Dr De Serres’ aim is to decipher when and how these cells become activated following kidney transplantation, how they interact with other components of the immune system, and to better understand how they affect the transplanted kidney. These cells are intriguing: they can either repair or damage the kidney, depending on the biological condition. Although their impact on kidney transplantation is still not well defined, there is increasing evidence that they play a key role in determining the fate of the graft.

Dr. De Serres’ hope is that this knowledge will help to individualize immunosuppressive therapy and thus reduce the side effects of the anti-rejection drugs. It should also help to develop better treatments for chronic rejection, which will ultimately increase the life expectancy of the transplanted kidneys. These tools might prove beneficial not only to kidney transplant recipients, but eventually to the recipients of other organs.



Dr. Matthew James, M.D.
Calgary University



Dr. Matthew James is a new investigator at the University of Calgary. He obtained his M.D. at the University of British Columbia and completed a KRESCENT Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Nephrology Clinical Research with Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn at the University of Calgary, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in Health Services Research and Epidemiology.

Dr. James’ goal is to find ways to reduce Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) frequency and improve outcomes for patients with AKI in Canada. AKI is common in patients undergoing surgery and certain diagnostic imaging procedures, and is associated with serious complications including the need for dialysis. It often can be prevented by good medical care, and early detection can improve its consequences.

Dr. James’ research will provide valuable data for patients and health care providers, and will focus on advancing population health, health services research, and clinical knowledge translation in these areas of AKI. As part of his research, he will also develop a novel database that will support ongoing study of AKI.

The results obtained from this research study will help inform the design of new interventions intended to improve the adverse hospital outcomes associated with acute kidney injury in Canada.



Dr. Sandra Turcotte, Ph.D.
Université de Moncton



Dr. Sandra Turcotte is a new investigator at the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute and the Université de Moncton. She completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the Stanford University and Université de Montréal

Kidney cancer is the most lethal of all urological cancers due to the lack of effective systemic therapy for advanced or metastic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) occurs in 75% of RCC. Because VHL plays an important role in early development of RCC, targeting its inactivation represents a promising target for the development of new therapies.

Dr. Turcotte’s research goal will focus on characterizing VHL function in autophagy, a process in the cell, to further develop a new type of targeted therapy to selectively kill VHL-deficient cells for anticancer therapy.

Findings could lead to the development of a new type of targeted therapy for the treatment of RCC which in agreement with the mission of the Kidney Foundation of Canada to continue to provide and develop leadership for kidney health and improve lives for all Canadians affected by kidney disease.






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