Boston Researcher Receives National Kidney Foundation Young Investigators Grant

Study examines effect of Interferon Regulatory Factor 5 (IRF5) in patients with lupus-related kidney disease

New York, NY – Hanni Menn-Josephy, MD, of Boston, MA has been awarded a 2016 Young Investigators Grant by National Kidney Foundation for her research in the area of lupus and kidney disease.

The NKF Young Investigator Research Program strives to improve the quality of life for those with kidney disease by funding promising young scientists in their research to discover the causes of kidney disease, how to prevent its progression and ways to improve treatment for those living with it today.

Dr. Menn-Josephy is a nephrologist and a physician–scientist working in the renal section at Boston University Medical Center in Boston, MA. She is conducting basic and translational research in the area of lupus and autoimmune kidney disease, focusing on the effect of Interferon Regulatory Factor 5 (IRF5) in the signaling pathway of toll-like receptors in mice models and in patients with lupus disease.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects young women of child-bearing age. The purpose of this study is to determine whether IRF5 plays a role in lupus-related kidney disease. Dr. Menn-Josephy plans to obtain kidney samples from lupus patients with active kidney disease and measure IRF5 expression in various kidney immune cells. Overall, this project will identify whether IRF5 or other proteins in the IRF5 pathway are potential new targets for the treatment of lupus kidney disease.

“We anticipate that this may ultimately lead to the identification of specific pathways that can be targeted therapeutically to prevent end-organ damage and the long-term development of end-stage renal disease,” said Dr. Menn-Josephy, “Although our studies are focused on lupus nephritis, our findings may be also relevant for other immune-complex mediated diseases.”

Menn-Josephy expects to publish her work in 2018. Her next research project will focus on studying the effect of the different genetic variations of IRF5 in our lupus patients on kidney disease manifestations, and the degree of kidney and systemic inflammatory response.

 “We recognize that research is an important means to advancing our knowledge of kidney disease, developing new methods to slow its progression and finding innovative ways to improve treatment,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation. “Supporting researchers at the early stages of their investigative careers, like Dr. Menn-Josephy, can contribute to a life-long commitment of discoveries and progress in treatment.”

The Young Investigator Grants are awarded for one-year terms, beginning on July 1, 2016. The awards are based upon careful and balanced peer review by an independent review committee, with an emphasis on the support of high-quality clinical investigation.

Kidney Facts:

To date, NKF’s innovative research grant program has invested over $100 million in support to over 1,100 talented researchers investigating the causes and treatments of kidney disease.

1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease.  26 million American adults have kidney disease -- and most don't know it.  Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, family history, and age 60+.  People of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease.  For more information about NKF visit www.kidney.org.

Publication Date: 
Thursday, September 8, 2016