To find out more on these exceptional individuals and their research projects please click on their name below.
2014 – 2016 Research Scholars
2015 – 2016 Research Scholars
2015 – 2017 Research Scholars
2014 – 2016 Research Scholars
Project Title: "Identification and Characterization of the MrpJ Virulence Gene Network in Uropathogenic Proteus mirabilis"
Institution: New York University School of Medicine
Mentor: Melanie Pearson, PhD
Sponsor: AUA New York Section Research Scholar Fund
Proteus mirabilis is a major cause of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs), a type of complicated UTIs that affect a large portion of the aging population in long-term care facilities and hospitalized patients with indwelling urinary catheters, incurring a steep healthcare cost and heavy public health burden worldwide. In addition to severe bladder and kidney infections, this bacterium manifests an alarmingly high percentage of antibiotic resistance and causes urolithiasis or kidney stones, further complicating the disease progression and treatment. Two critical aspects of P. mirabilis virulence are hair-like surface appendages (fimbriae / pili), which mediate attachment to the host's urinary tract, and tail-like flagella, which mediate motility. Dr. Debnath's research is focused on major P. mirabilis gene regulator MrpJ, which modulates the inverse temporal regulation of these two virulence processes during UTI and whose absence renders these bacteria highly attenuated in pathogenesis. Her data suggest that MrpJ regulates a number of other critical virulence effectors and Dr. Debnath hypothesizes that MrpJ is orchestrating an intricate virulence gene network during UTI. Her study will determine the various virulence genes in this network directly regulated by MrpJ, the molecular mechanism of this regulation, and how MrpJ and a subset of MrpJ-regulated genes modulate the host's immune defense to establish disease in the urinary tract, thus defining novel pathogenic targets for future therapeutics.
Project Title: "Metabolism Associated with Hyperoxaluria and Calcium Oxalate Stone Disease"
Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Mentor: Ross Holmes, PhD and Dean Assimos, MD
Sponsor: AUA Southeastern Section Research Scholar Fund
Kidney stones have been reported to affect at least 5% of Western populations. Of these, calcium oxalate stones are the most common. The primary hyperoxalurias are severe inherited diseases, which cause recurring calcium oxalate stones, may lead to renal failure and necessitate transplantation. Three different forms of primary hyperoxalurias have been identified, all three involving enzyme of the metabolism of oxalate and glyoxylate, a precursor of oxalate. The goal of Dr. Fargue's proposed research is to elucidate some of the mechanisms of the glyoxylate metabolism, using cell models of primary hyperoxaluria. The insights that will be gained in this way will not only help design treatments for patients with primary hyperoxaluria, but will also shed light on pathways that are involved in the more common forms of calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Project Title: "A Mouse Model for Human Urinary Incontinence"
Institution: Children's Hospital Boston
Mentor: Sean Xue Li, PhD
Sponsor: AUA New England Section Research Scholar Fund
Human Urofacial Syndrome (UFS) (aka, Ochoa syndrome), a rare autosomal recessive disease with dysfunctional urination, including urinary incontinence, frequency and urgency. Dr. Guo has successfully generated a mouse Hpse2 mutant line that models UFS. This is the first and the only mouse model of UFS, which enables him to study specific aspects of molecular and cellular basis of complex urological problems including urinary incontinence. In this project, Dr. Guo is investigating neuronal and muscular basis of Hpse2 mutant defects in lower urinary tracts.
Project Title: "uPAR and mTORC2: Coupled Targets for Therapeutics Development in Bladder Cancer"
Institution: University of California San Diego
Mentor: Donna Hansel, MD, PhD
Sponsor: Frank and Marion Hinman Urology Research Fund
Bladder cancer represents one of the deadliest cancers globally and will account for over 15,000 deaths in the United States in 2013. For patients with invasive bladder cancer, the gold standard of treatment involves radical cystectomy, which is initially effective in decreasing morbidity. However, the high recurrence and distant metastasis within the first several years post-surgery necessitates new treatment options and a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying this disease. Presently, Dr. Hau and his research team have identified two powerful pro-invasion candidates that have increased expression in high-grade, invasive bladder cancer and our research suggests that combined inhibition of these factors could represent a new therapeutic option for the management of bladder cancer.
Project Title: "Determining the Role of Epithelial-mesenchymal Transition in Prostate Cancer and Stem Cells During Castration-resistant Cancer Progression"
Institution: University of California Los Angeles
Mentor: Robert Reiter, MD
Sponsor: Robert J. Krane, MD Urology Research Scholar Fund
Patients with advanced prostate cancer are often treated first with anti-androgen therapies, but will invariably develop deadly castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) without clear mechanism. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been suggested as a critical pathway utilized by cancer stem cells (or by epithelial tumor cells to confer stem cell properties) to survive after androgen ablation and that this adaptive response underlies the development of castration resistance. However, there is a lack of direct evidence for the role of EMT in prostate stem cells, and little is known about the pivotal pathways mediating EMT in prostate cancer. In this study, Dr. Lin proposes to clarify the relationship of N-cadherin, Zeb-1 and other transcriptional activator of EMT to prostate stem cell behavior and prostate cancer invasion, metastasis and CRPC progression. She will also determine the role of AR in these processes. Her proposed research will likely reveal an important role of EMT in prostate cancer and stem cells, and provide useful information of EMT-related biomarkers for preventing and developing efficient therapeutics to combat the treatment resistance to next-generation AR antagonists.
Project Title: "Cell of Origin of Bladder Cancer"
Institution: Columbia University Medical Center
Mentor: Cory Abate-Shen, PhD
Sponsor: Dornier MedTech
Dr. Owczarek's research proposal is focused on understanding how the various cells in the bladder give rise to bladder cancer. Normal bladder epithelium consists of three different cell types that differ significantly from each other. Dr. Owczarek hypothesizes hat depending on which cell type undergoes cancerous transformation, bladder cancer may be more or less malignant, and that this contributes to the outcome for the patient.
To investigate whether this is indeed the case, Dr. Owczarek is planning to utilize an experimental mouse model, which resembles human disease. Based on previous experimental work carried out in the laboratory in which he works, has already identified genes that cause lethal bladder cancer in the mouse model. In the research that he is now proposing, he will examine the differences between tumors that arise from different types of bladder epithelial cells, which are based on these genetic modifications. Sophisticated analysis of these tumors will allow Dr. Owczarek to find the similarities and differences of cancers that arise from different cell types in the bladder. In so doing, he will identify approaches to distinguish the type of epithelial cells from which cancers arise in the patient. Dr. Owczarek's successful implementation of these studies will help to identify appropriate and effective anticancer therapies based on cell of origin of cancer.
Project Title: "An Epigenomic Pathway From Cholesterol to Intracrine Androgen"
Institution: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Mentor: Michael Freeman, PhD and Jayoung Kim, PhD
Sponsor: AUA Western Section Research Scholar Fund
Prostate cancer (PC) is incurable when it becomes resistant to current therapies. Dr. You and colleagues have recently discovered that a protein, scaffold attachment factor B1 (SAFB1), is a novel regulator of the androgen receptor and other proteins associated with PC progression to end-stage disease. The goal of his research project is to identify and functionally characterize the gene regulatory networks controlled by SAFB1. He will use computational, laboratory, and genomics methods to uncover this novel network. This project is directed toward elucidating the molecular mechanisms that promote lethal prostate cancer so that novel methods for combating the disease and substantially prolonging life can be found.
Project Title: "Exploring the Molecular Mechanism of Inflammatory Response in a New Rat Model of Radiation Cystitis"
Institution: Beaumont Health System
Mentor: Michael Chancellor, MD
Sponsor: AUA North Central Section Research Scholar Fund
As result of radiation therapy for the treatment of pelvic cancer, there are a growing number of cancer survivors who are experiencing adverse effects of radiation therapy such as radiation cystitis. It is believed that inflammation has an important role in radiation cystitis. As such, we will develop tacrolimus (well-known immunosuppressant) as a novel drug therapy to treat radiation cystitis by targeting the bladder’s inflammatory mechanisms locally using intravesical bladder targeted delivery. We will utilize state of the art facilities including, Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and various molecular techniques in this study to develop a successful therapy for Radiation Cystitis.
2015 – 2016 Research Scholars
Project Title: "The Prognostic and Therapeutic Value of Genomic Alterations and PI3K/AKT/mTOR Aberrations in Upper Tract Urothelial Carcinoma"
Institution: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Mentor: David B. Solit, MD and Jonathan A. Coleman, MD
Sponsor: Society for Urologic Oncology Research Scholar Fund I
Project Title: "Function of the PRC2/Ezh2-dependent Epigenetic Program in Bladder Regeneration and Repair"
Institution: Boston Children's Hospital
Mentor: Rosalyn M. Adam, PhD and Sean X. Li, PhD
Sponsor: Urology Care Foundation
Project Title: "Integrated Computational and Biological Identification of Personalized Tumor-specific Neoantigens in Renal Cell Carcinoma"
Institution: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Mentor: Mohamad E. Allaf, MD and Charles G. Drake, MD, PhD
Sponsor: AUA Mid-Atlantic Section Research Scholar Fund
Project Title: "Treatment of Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer by PIM1 Kinase Inhibition Enhances Androgen Deprivation Therapy and Docetaxel Chemotherapy"
Institution: Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Mentor: Robert J. Matusik, PhD, Sarki A. Abdulkadir, MD, PhD, and Michael L. Freeman, PhD
Sponsor: Center for Prostate Disease Research
Project Title: "Development of QevOS, a Novel Quantitative Model System for Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis"
Institution: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Mentor: Ganesh Raj, MD, PhD
Sponsor: AUA South Central Section Research Scholar Fund I
Project Title: "The Impact of Male Factor Infertility on the Utilization and Outcomes of Assisted Reproductive Technology"
Institution: Emory University School of Medicine
Mentor: Jessica B. Spencer, MD, Martin G. Sanda, MD and Michael Goodman, MD, MPH
Sponsor: AUA Southeastern Section Research Scholar Fund III
2015 Joseph Segura, MD Scholarship in Endourology and Stone Management
Project Title: "Endourologic Technical Skills Transfer from the Virtual Reality Environment to the Operating Room"
Institution: McGill University Health Centre
Mentor: Sero Andonian, MD
Sponsor: Boston Scientific Corporation, The Endourological Society, and the "Friends of Joe"
Project Title: "The Impact of Clinical and Demographic Factors on Risk-Adjusted Outcomes for Urologic Cancer Surgery"
Institution: University of Washington
Mentor: John L. Gore, MD
Sponsor: Society for Urologic Oncology Research Scholar Fund II
Project Title: "Boiling Histotripsy of the Kidney: A Novel Ultrasound Based Treatment for Renal Cell Carcinoma"
Institution: University of Washington
Mentor: Michael R. Bailey, PhD and Daniel W. Lin, MD
Sponsor: AUA Western Section Research Scholar Fund II
2015 – 2017 Research Scholars
Project Title: "Targeting the Prostate Tumor Microenvironment by a Novel Quinazoline Agent"
Institution: University of Kentucky Medical Center
Mentor: Natasha Kyprianou, PhD
Project Title: "Interrogation of the Sorbitol Pathway in VHL-Independent HIF driven Renal Cell Carcinomas"
Institution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Mentor: James J. Hsieh, MD, PhD
Sponsor: Kidney Cancer Association
Project Title: "Use of Receptors for Growth Hormone-releasing Hormone (GHRH) and Luteinizing Hormone-releasing Hormone (LHRH) Receptors as Potential Therapeutic Targets to Reduce Inflammation and Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia"
Institution: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Mentor: Andrew V. Schally, PhD and Ferenc Rick, MD, PhD
Sponsor: AUA Southeastern Section Research Scholar Fund II
Project Title: "Optogenetic Dissection of Cell Type-specific Roles in Bladder Pain"
Institution: Washington University – St. Louis
Mentor: Robert W. Gereau, PhD
Sponsor: Indian American Urological Association/Kailash Kedia, MD Research Scholar Fund