Educational Resources
The Pittsburgh Center for Kidney Research is dedicated to providing education, training, and enrichment opportunities. Mini-sabbaticals and other instructional opportunities are available to new and established investigators, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, with the goal of bringing new technologies into the laboratories of investigators to broaden and enhance their research activities. The Center also supports research experiences for medical students and undergraduate students.

Mini Sabbaticals:

Each Core offers 1 to 2 week “mini-sabbaticals”, where attendees work in one of the Cores to learn specific techniques. For example, our Single Nephron and Metabolomics Core offers three to six month sabbaticals for scientists or trainees interested in acquiring the skills needed for successful microperfusion of isolated tubules for measurement of transport or functional fluorescence imaging. Our Center will assist investigators in arranging mini-sabbaticals, including housing arrangements.

To participate in a mini-sabbatical, please download our core usage form and return by email to Dr. Thomas Kleyman or Dr. Ora Weisz.

Other Educational Opportunities:

Annual Acute Kidney Injury Retreat. Drs. Kleyman and Kellum host an annual daylong retreat to foster a cross-campus dialogue focused on AKI, with a goal of identifying common areas of interest and developing collaborations. University of Pittsburgh faculty and senior fellows present ongoing research and receive feedback from attendees. We invite outside experts in the area of AKI to participate in our retreat and present a seminar at the retreat, the day preceding the retreat at Critical Care Medicine grand rounds, and the day following the retreat at our Renal Division Grand Rounds. Invited speakers for the symposium held in 2012 included Lakhmir Chawla (George Washington University), Pierre Dagher (Indiana University) and Volker Hans Haase (Vanderbilt University). In addition to this yearly retreat, Dr. Kellum hosts a bimonthly meeting where investigators with an interest in AKI present data in an informal setting that encourages a dialog among participants.

The Local Traffic Symposium (https://apps.bio.cmu.edu/localtraffic/) is a one-day event, eleven years in the running, which explores the cell biology of membrane biogenesis and traffic. Participants include regional investigators, students, and postdocs from the University of Pittsburgh andCarnegie Mellon University as well as researchers and guest speakers from other universities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the NIH. The meeting includes student presentations, faculty talks, and a keynote address that provides a forum for students, faculty, and research support staff with an interest in membrane traffic to interact and share their recent findings on protein folding, ER degradation, secretory and endocytic traffic. Recent keynote speakers include James Rothman, Scott Emr, and Lois Weisman. Support for the meeting is provided by the Dean of the Medical School, the Department of Cell Biology, the Renal-Electrolyte Division, and the O’Brien Kidney Center. Attendance at this meeting typically exceeds 120 and is free for attendees.

An annual day-long Pittsburgh Ubiquitin-Proteasome Meeting is organized by investigators from the Department of Biological Sciences (Brodsky), the School of Medicine/Hillman Cancer Center (Wan), and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Kwan) at the University of Pittsburgh. The meeting brings together the PIs and personnel from the ~10 groups in the Pittsburgh area, as well as researchers from other areas (e.g., Washington DC and West Virginia) whose work relates to various aspects of cellular protein quality control and the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. The invited guest lecture for the 2012 meeting was Ron Kopito from Stanford University. Support is provided by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Dr. Kleyman has been co-organizing an annual week-long summer workshop on Epithelial Physiology and Cell Biology held in Telluride, Colorado, under the auspices of the Telluride Science Research Center for the past 10 years. The goal of this workshop is to bring together experts who present recent findings and generate discussions in the following areas: (i) structure and regulation of epithelial ion channels; (ii) structure and regulation of ion cotransporters, exchangers and pumps; and (iii) protein trafficking in epithelia. We encourage Core Directors/co-Directors, scientists supported by Pilot andFeasibility funding, as well as scientists utilizing our Core facilities to participate in this meeting. 

Research Experience and Training:

Medical Students:
For the past 12 years the University of Pittsburgh has sponsored a week-long course designed to introduce first year medical students to bench research. This course, held at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratories, focuses on epithelial cell biology and physiology. Several members of the Center, including Drs. Kleyman, Apodaca,Butterworth, Carattino, Frizzell, Hallows, Kashlan, and Sheng, have participated in this course. The students have day-long (~12 hours) rotations where they learn to perform short-circuit current measurements using Ussing chambers, two-electrode voltage clamp measurements using Xenopus oocytes, and confocal microscopy.

Over eighty University of Pittsburgh medical students perform research during the summer between their first and second year. Dr. Kleyman is the PI of a T35 training grant (T35 DK065521) that provides support for medical students to perform research over the summer under the auspices of a faculty member. This support mechanism encourages students to perform research under the direction of one of our Center investigators. Students working in a kidney research laboratory participate in our renal division educational activities, which includes a series of lectures for our renal fellows that focuses on kidney physiology, pathophysiology, and disease management. They also attend a faculty-facilitated discussion on authorship issues, a practical talk about poster and platform presentations, writing abstracts, and ethical issues in research. The relevance of biomedical research is discussed, using a number of examples of molecular biologic discoveries and gene transfer in inherited immunodeficiency disorders, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis, to illustrate the importance of translating discoveries at the bench to the beside in order to improve clinical care and advance medicine.

Undergraduate Students:
For the past two years our Center has supported a summer research program for undergraduate students with funds provided by the NIDDK. Students are selected from the pool of applicants participating in the School of Medicine or the Department of Biological Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). As part of their training, the School of Medicine SURP has weekly lunch sessions that focus on ethics, career pathways, lectures by selected faculty, and the admission process for graduate school and medical school. The Department of Biological Sciences SURP also has weekly lunch sessions that include faculty lectures, journal clubs, and discussion of career paths. In addition to these activities, students participating in our Kidney Center SURP meet weekly for a two-hour session with Center faculty. These sessions provide overviews of kidney physiology and pathophysiology, discussion of careers in kidney research and nephrology, and highlight areas of research within our Kidney Center. Sessions also review new publications in fields of research relevant to the kidney. The group also attends a day long ethics forum held at Duquesne University. At the end of the summer, all students prepare a written summary of their findings in abstract form and present their work to all SURP students and participating faculty.