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2022 Pilot & Feasibility Awardees

FY2022 P&F Awardees

Meet the 2022 NUGoKidney Pilot & Feasibility Grant Awardees

We are happy to announce the grants awarded from our recent call for proposals for our FY2021 NUGoKidney Pilot & Feasibility (P&F) Program. Of the many innovative, high-quality proposals we received, we were able to fund three new projects and renew one project for a second year, totaling nearly $150,000 in funds.

For the past 4 years, NUGoKidney has supported high-potential innovation projects with the potential to discover novel nephrotherapeutics that will transform the prevention and treatment of kidney diseases and eventually lead to cures. To date, the program has funded 16 investigators – five of whom are from other academic institutions.

In round 5, the call for applications included a focus on proposals for novel targets or strategies using nanotechnology to study kidney diseases that may benefit from targeted therapies. NUGoKidney received twelve applications in April from across Northwestern and other academic institutions.

These projects highlight NUGoKidney’s mission to facilitate new cross-disciplinary translational research for the identification and successful implementation of novel therapeutics for kidney disease. In addition to providing funding to advance the selected projects, NUGoKidney’s research cores will work with funded research teams to provide access to core services such as data analysis, bioethics expertise, full-service genome editing services, and nanostructure-enhanced precision targeting.

Please join us in congratulating everyone involved, and please read more about this year’s supported projects below.

We also want to thank all the applicants who applied. It was an extremely competitive pool of proposals, and we were only able to fund a limited portion of the projects. We recognize there may be others who were unable to apply within our application timeline. We will have future funding opportunities available as part of our new grant cycle for FY2023 and will share this information on our funding page once available. You can also sign up for our funding opportunities email list to get updates on our open opportunities.

Targeting Regulatory T Cell Delivery using Nanofibers to Prevent Ischemia and Reperfusion Injury

Samuel Stupp, PhD
Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering
Director, Simpson Querrey Institute
Director, Center for Bio-inspired Energy Science 

Lorenzo Gallon, MD
Professor of Medicine (Nephrology & Hypertension) and Surgery Organ Transplantation
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) which evokes major intra-graft inflammatory immune responses that augment graft immunogenicity, is known to negative outcomes in solid organ transplantation. In this joint proposal between the Simpson Querrey Institute and the Comprehensive Transplant Center, we propose to coat mouse Tregs with supramolecular peptide amphiphile nanofibers and test whether the nanofiber-coated Tregs are more effective than uncoated Tregs in preventing IRI in mouse models of kidney injury.

Peptide-Based Nanocarrier for Targeting of the Inflamed Kidney Endothelium

Pinelopi Kapitsinou, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine (Nephrology & Hypertension)
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Approaches designed to deliver drugs against specific cell types hold significant promise to promote therapeutic efficacy while avoiding toxicity. The proposed study aims to develop nanocarriers, which will be able to deliver therapeutics to the inflamed kidney endothelium, a critical cellular target for acute kidney injury. Dr. Kapitsinou will work with experts in NUGoKidney's Therapeutic Design & Development Core to design targeted nanocarriers and validate their targeting efficiency and specificity in a mouse model of kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Identification of small molecules activators for the key intestinal oxalate transporters SLC26A6 and SLC26A2: Therapeutic implication for hyperoxalemia, hyperoxaluria, and related kidney stones

Hatim Hassan, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine (Nephrology), University of Chicago

Besides its critical role in the development of kidney stones, very small increases in blood and urinary oxalate concentrations potentially contribute to many other disorders, including accelerating the progression of kidney disease into the need for dialysis. This proposal seeks to develop a highly sensitive assay to identify urgently needed novel drugs which can reduce blood and urinary oxalate levels and have remarkable therapeutic implications for the prevention and/or treatment of hyperoxalemia and hyperoxaluria and related disorders.

To conduct the study, Dr. Hassan will work with NUGoKidney partnering core experts at Northwestern's High Throughput Analysis Core to assist in the development of the screening assay targeting oxalate transporters agonists.

Targeted Drug Delivery to Podocytes for the Treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome

Ying Maggie Chen, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology & Physiology
Director, Washington University Nephrotic Syndrome Clinic
Division of Nephrology, Washington University in St. Louis

In the first year of funding, Dr. Chen collaborated with NUGoKidney's Therapeutic Design & Development Core (Core B) to use a patented process referred to as nanostructure enhanced targeting (NSET), invented in the lab of NUGoKidney Core B co-director, Evan Scott, PhD, to develop podocyte-targeted nanoparticles (NPs) to deliver a new class of drugs, podocyte endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium stabilizers.

In the second year of funding, Dr. Chen will continue to collaborate with NUGoKidney Core B and Dr. Scott's lab to develop podocyte-specific micelles as a novel nanotherapeutic that improves the treatment of nephrotic syndrome and other podocytopathies.

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