Jeffrey H. Miner, PhD, director of the Administrative Core, director of the Educational Enrichment Program, and Scientific Project co-Investigator. Dr. Miner is a professor of medicine in the Renal Division, where he has had an active research lab since 1996. He is internationally recognized for his studies of basement membrane components and their roles in establishing the kidney’s glomerular filtration barrier and is chair of the American Society of Nephrology’s Physiology and Cell and Molecular Biology Advisory Group. He makes extensive use of genetically altered mice to model human kidney disease. He has recently become interested in cell polarity/scaffolding proteins that impact kidney development, ureter smooth muscle orientation and ureter connection to the bladder. His expertise with extracellular matrix will be leveraged by the Scientific Project to find new molecular indicators of urothelial injury and repair. Dr. Miner has also been involved in the administration of several NIH-funded centers and in education and training of students and fellows at Washington University.

Robert Gereau, PhD, PI for the Scientific Project. Dr. Gereau is a professor of anesthesiology and the director of the Washington University Pain Center. He is an internationally recognized leader in the pain field. He serves on the Board of Directors for the American Pain Society and as an associate editor for Pain, the society journal for the International Association for the Study of Pain. He has also served as a standing member of the Somatosensory and Chemosensory Sciences study section, the primary scientific review group responsible for the review of NIH grant applications focused on pain. Dr. Gereau also established and directs the Washington University Pain Center’s mouse behavior core. His lab has extensive experience in the behavioral and electrophysiological analysis of pain in mice. This expertise is now being applied to the study of bladder pain and is a critical aspect of the center’s Scientific Project. He and Dr. Lai have established the bladder distension-evoked visceromotor response model of visceral pain, as evidenced by their recent publications using this technique. Dr. Gereau has a long history of conducting leading-edge pain research, and in mentoring students, fellows and young faculty in the field of pain research. He recently received the Oustanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Washington University Graduate Student Senate.

Sanjay Jain, MD, PhD, PI for the Scientific Project. Dr. Jain is an assistant professor of medicine (Renal Division) and of pathology and immunology. He both trained in anatomic pathology and did a basic science postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University. He discovered that specific pathways activated by GDNF-RET signaling have distinct and crucial roles in kidney and nervous system development, influencing ureter maturation, ureteric bud induction, branching morphogenesis, and innervation of the periphery and viscera. Dr. Jain established his laboratory in the Renal Division focused on both CAKUT and neurobiology in 2006. Dr. Jain is using molecular, physiologic and genomic approaches to understand the role of neurotrophic factors in upper and lower urinary tract in development and disease. In collaboration with Dr. Gereau, he recently elucidated the role of the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret in sensory neurons innervating the periphery. His dual training (MD and PhD) has enabled him to undertake initiatives to bridge basic science and clinical research. Dr. Jain’s work in basic and translational research has been internationally recognized; he has served in leadership positions in various capacities including serving on the the Board of Directors of the Renal Pathology Society, as a reviewer for many peer-reviewed journals and study sections for NIH, and as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012-2017). He has been recommended for membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2013). He is a founder and director of the Renal Division’s O’Brien Center (P30DK079333) Kidney Translational Research Core (KTRC, established in 2008). The KTRC is an internationally accessed biorepository of clinical data and biospecimens integrated through informatics. It serves all aspects of renal translational research (IRB navigation, study design, patient recruitment, biostatistics, specimen acquisition, high-throughput technology, biomarker and genomic discoveries). It has catered to the translational research needs of over 50 investigators worldwide in the last five years. He is establishing the biorepository of clinical data and biospecimens from patients with benign urological diseases and works closely with Dr. Lai in coordinating patient enrolments and specimen collections.

Henry Lai, MD, PI for the Scientific Project. Dr. Lai is a physician-scientist who works at the interface between basic/translational research and clinical studies. Dr. Lai is an assistant professor of urologic surgery and is director of Neurourology Research for the Division of Urologic Surgery. He specializes in treating patients with benign lower urinary tract disorders, with a clinical and basic/translational research focus on bladder disorders, including interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, overactive bladder, and recurrent urinary tract infection. He is co-director of the NIDDK-sponsored Multidisciplinary Approach to Urologic Pelvic Pain (MAPP) grant (U01DK082315), investigating the epidemiology, clinical phenotypes, natural history, and neuroimaging of patients with interstitial cystitis and chronic prostatitis. He is also the project leader of an NIDDK-sponsored MAPP animal study, examining the molecular mechanisms that underlie pelvic pain sensitization in the central nervous system. In addition to the NIH, Dr. Lai has also received support from the American Urological Association Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Pfizer. As a board-certified urologist with fellowship training in female urology and neurourology, Dr. Lai sees numerous patients with benign lower urinary tract disorders; he will be the major driving force for recruiting participants (affected and controls) for the proposed human studies. In addition, he brings basic research expertise in bladder physiology, contractility, pharmacology, and bladder pain, including functional measurement of bladder pain (visceromotor response) and micturition (filling cystometry) in mice.

Indira Mysorekar, PhD, PI for the Scientific Project. Dr. Mysorekar is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of pathology and immunology. Her lab, which she established in 2008, has developed multipronged approaches to understand the cellular and molecular details of adult stem cell biology of the mammalian urinary bladder. Her research focuses on using uropathogenic E. coli infection and injury and repair to the urothelium in mice for modeling urinary tract infection (UTI) in women. She has developed and characterized mouse models to study adult urothelial stem cell niche activation in response to injury and identified molecular markers of stem cell activation. Her lab uses confocal and electron microscopy, oligonucleotide arrays, histopathologic analyses, and inducible disruption of key genes for urothelial regeneration in mice to delineate the cellular mechanisms and molecular regulators that govern the rapid, injury-induced regenerative response of normally quiescent urothelial stem cells; she applies these insights to disease processes with abnormal urothelial turnover (e.g. recurrent UTIs, interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome). Recently, in collaboration with Dr. Gereau, Dr. Mysorekar found that differential injury elicits a distinctive nociception (bladder pain) profile, and remarkably, induction of bladder pain appears to require stem cell activation. Dr. Mysorekar is a recipient of an NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award and an investigator award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, as well as a research grant from the WU Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research. She participated on the planning committee for establishing research priorities in urology, the National Urology Research Agenda, released by the AUA in 2009. In addition, she has served as an ad hoc member of the AUA Foundation grant study section.
Mysorekar Lab website