Organoid research garners young investigator award

The journal STEM CELL honored Benjamin Freedman for his work using stem cells and CRISPR to model kidney disease

Benjamin “Beno” Freedman has been named STEM CELLS' Young Investigator of 2018 for his groundbreaking work with organoids in studying kidney structure and disease.

The award was created to foster advancements in the fields of stem cells and regenerative medicine by honoring a young researcher who is principal author of a STEM CELLS paper that is deemed to have the most impact on the field and to push the boundaries of novel and insightful research.

Freedman is an assistant professor of medicine, Division of Nephrology, at the UW School of Medicine.  He is also an investigator at the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and at the Kidney Research Institute, a collaboration between Northwest Kidney Centers and UW Medicine.




“We were trying to understand whether we can use organoids — complex structures we have generated from stem cells — to learn something new about how the kidney forms,” said  Freedman. “We focused in on a very specific cell type that's found only in the kidneys called a podocyte. It gets its name because it has “feet” (from the Greek word “podo”) coming off of it, at the bottom of the cell.”

Freedman’s award-winning work combines induced pluripotent stem cells and CRISPR gene editing to establish human kidney organoids for disease modeling and regenerative medicine studies. His work also creates a powerful new tool for genetic studies of human podocyte development and disease.

“We are very happy to present this award to Dr. Freedman for his elegant work demonstrating that the protein podocalyxin is essential for normal kidney development,” said Jan Nolta, editor-in-chief of STEM CELLS. “The combination of cutting edge stem cell gene editing and organoid technologies used in this important report, and the implications for treatment of kidney disease, made Dr. Freedman the clear winner of our Young Investigator Award this year.”

Freedman received a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology in 2009 from the University of California at Berkeley. He performed postdoctoral studies in the Renal Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and at Harvard Medical School. Along with the Young Investigator Award, he has been presented with several other awards, including the National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Young Investigator Grant from the National Kidney Foundation, and the Research Excellence Award from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Read the paper that earned Freedman the STEM CELLS Young Investigator Award, titled "Gene‐Edited Human Kidney Organoids Reveal Mechanisms of Disease in Podocyte Development."

STEM CELLS®, a peer-reviewed journal published monthly, is a forum for original investigative papers and reviews. The journal covers all aspects of stem cells: embryonic stem cells/induced pluripotent stem cells; tissue-specific stem cells; cancer stem cells; the stem cell niche; stem cell epigenetics, genomics and proteomics; and translational and clinical research. STEM CELLS is co-published by AlphaMed Press and Wiley.


This news item was provided by AlphaMed Press.

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