American Kidney Fund Awards Fellowships to Researchers Studying Acute Interstitial Nephritis and Pulmonary Hypertension in Kidney Patients

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 11, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today the American Kidney Fund (AKF) announced the recipients of this year’s Clinical Scientist in Nephrology (CSN) fellowship program, in which promising researchers work to improve the quality of care for people living with kidney disease and promote clinical research in nephrology. Dr. Kavita Mistry, a nephrology fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, will be using cutting-edge single cell sequencing technologies to gain insights into the initial events that lead to kidney inflammation in acute interstitial nephritis (ICI-AIN), while Dr. Marcelle Tuttle, a first-year fellow in the Tufts Medical Center Division of Nephrology, will be working on research that focuses on the development of pulmonary hypertension in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Dr. Mistry and Dr. Tuttle join a distinguished roster of more than 50 top nephrology researchers who received early-career support from AKF through the Clinical Scientist in Nephrology Program. Their fellowships are funded by a generous grant from Hearst Foundations.

CSN fellows conduct prevention and outcomes research while receiving advanced training in essential skills such as medical ethics, biostatistics and epidemiology. The program has funded some of the field’s most prominent researchers early in their careers, helping to address the shortage of nephrology researchers.

“The American Kidney Fund is proud to have Dr. Mistry and Dr. Tuttle join the ranks of prestigious researchers in our Clinical Scientist in Nephrology program, generously supported this year by the Hearst Foundations,” said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact of their research, which will help kidney patients who are facing additional health challenges like cancer and pulmonary hypertension.”

Dr. Mistry’s project reflects her interest in both nephrology and immunology, particularly in cancer patients. Although immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment by unleashing the power of the immune system to fight numerous cancers, its use is limited by the side effect of harmful inflammation in healthy tissues and organs. When this inflammation targets the kidneys, it causes ICI-AIN. Dr. Mistry hopes to gain insight into the events that cause this inflammation. The ultimate goal of her work is to inform the development of non-invasive tests for ICI-AIN that can be used in the diagnosis of patients in the clinic, and to facilitate improved treatments for ICI-AIN that have fewer side effects on patients as they undergo cancer treatment.

“I am delighted to join the AKF community, and to continue in the strong tradition of research supported by the AKF Clinical Scientist in Nephrology program,” said Dr. Mistry. “Our work studying immune checkpoint inhibitor-associated kidney injury begins and ends with the patient, which aligns seamlessly with AKF’s mission to improve the care of patients with kidney disease. We start at the bedside, where we provide clinical care to patients suffering from immunotherapy-related kidney toxicity. We then bring blood, urine and kidney tissue samples to the lab bench, where we harness the power of single cell sequencing to understand the immunologic pathways that drive harmful kidney inflammation. Ultimately, we hope to use our discoveries to directly impact the way that we diagnose and treat patients with kidney injury. What excites me the most is the potential for our study to yield insights into the mechanisms of more common kidney diseases, including other types of interstitial nephritis and kidney injury that affect even greater numbers of patients.”

Dr. Tuttle’s project will examine the development of early pulmonary hypertension in patients with CKD. Pulmonary hypertension is a rare disorder, affecting approximately 1% of the global population. However, it is common in patients with CKD, with approximately 21% of CKD patients having pulmonary hypertension. Also, for patients with CKD, having pulmonary hypertension is associated with double the risk of death from any cause. Using data from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC), Dr. Tuttle’s project has two objectives: (1) to identify risk factors for progression of pulmonary hypertension in patients with chronic kidney disease and (2) to examine whether progression of pulmonary hypertension is associated with a composite of dialysis, kidney transplantation or diminished kidney function or a cardiovascular composite of heart failure, heart attack and death due to cardiovascular causes.

"Pulmonary hypertension is a common and underrecognized issue for patients with chronic kidney disease,” said Dr. Tuttle. “Through this study, I plan to identify new risk factors for pulmonary hypertension in patients with chronic kidney disease. I am extraordinarily grateful to the AKF for this opportunity and hope that this study will lead to earlier identification of pulmonary hypertension in CKD patients and potentially new treatments targeted towards the CKD population."

Dr. Mistry earned her Bachelor of Arts and MD/PhD degrees from Yale University. She completed her residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is currently a nephrology fellow at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where she provides care for patients with kidney disease and cancer.

Dr. Tuttle is a first-year fellow in the Tufts Medical Center Division of Nephrology and a master's student in Clinical and Translational Science at the Tufts University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Prior to fellowship, she received her MD from the Tufts University School of Medicine and completed residency at the Tufts Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency. Her current research focuses on the development of pulmonary hypertension in patients with chronic kidney disease. 


About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. AKF is one of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

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Dr. Kavita Mistry Dr. Marcelle Tuttle

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