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Faculty - PhD


The Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension

12700 East 19th Ave
Campus Box C281
Aurora, CO 80045
Phone 303.724.4852
Fax 303.724.4868

Gabriela Garcia, MD
Associate Research Professor

Dr. Garcia’s primary research interest is in identifying mediators that drive inflammation and endogenous factors that regulate counter anti-inflammatory processes in the kidney. Inflammation has an important role in the development and progression of most chronic kidney diseases, yet understanding and preventing inflammation and progressive fibrosis of the kidney remain unsolved challenges that Dr. Garcia hopes to influence through her work.

Research Profile


Berenice Gitomer, PhD
Research Professor

For the past 27 years, Dr. Gitomer has conducted research on genetic diseases of the kidney and, since joining the Renal Divisi
on in 2003, has focused on translational studies related to autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). She is primarily interested in those factors, genetic and environmental, that affect the severity of ADPKD. Notably, the National Institutes of Health has funded several of Dr. Gitomer’s studies examining the roles of angiogenesis, fibroblast growth factor 23, endothelial dysfunction and modifier genes in human ADPKD. These studies, conducted in collaboration with her clinical colleagues, have resulted in several breakthroughs, including the first description of a bone defect in patients with ADPKD.

Research Profile 


Katharina Hopp, PhD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Hopp attempts to understand, through her research, the underlying pathomechanisms driving autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease progression. Specifically, she investigates genetic mechanisms driving phenotypic heterogeneity amongst patients by studying different murine models and by sequencing human samples. She also studies the renal cystic microenvironment to better understand the role of immune cells in ADPKD pathogenesis. Through this research, Dr. Hopp aims to identify novel pathways that can be translated into either pre-clinical or clinical trials geared to alleviate disease burden.
Research Profile
Miguel Lanaspa Garcia, PhD
Assistant Research Professor

As a researcher, Dr. Lanaspa focuses primarily on 1) the role of fructose and other sugars in the development and progression of metabolic syndrome and kidney disease, and 2) the effects of hypertonicity and dehydration in the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD), especially as they apply to the new epidemic of non-traditional CKD occurring in Central America (known as “Mesoamerican Nephropathy”). Dr. Lanaspa received K01 Career Development and R03 Research awards from the National Institutes of Health in order to fund his research on the deleterious role of endogenously produced sugars in different models of acute kidney injury, including ischemia-reperfusion. He also received two R01 awards for his studies focused on characterizing the effects of fructose blockade in hereditary fructose intolerance and on defining the role of non-caloric dietary salt in promoting leptin resistance, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and kidney disease. Through these studies, Dr. Lanaspa attempts to understand the “cross-talk” between sugar and osmolality throughout the progression of kidney disease and metabolic diseases.

MyPhuong Le, PhD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Le’s research interests include the impact of excessive sugar consumption on human health and the development of plant-based therapeutics.  She is currently funded by a K01 Career Development award from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health to study and develop therapies against the adverse effects of fructose and fatty liver disease.
Research Profile

Makoto Miyazaki, PhD
Associate Professor

Cardiovascular complications, such as vascular calcification, are the leading cause of death in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Dr. Miyazaki, through his research, attempts to understand the molecular mechanism for the development of vascular calcification and to identify a novel target for treatment of CKD-dependent vascular diseases.

Research Profile


Raphael A Nemenoff, PhD
Professor

Raphael Nemenoff is currently the Director of Basic Research in the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension.  His laboratory is focused on the role of the microenvironment in mediating disease progression, focusing on inflammatory and immune pathways.  We are currently examining this in a model of lung cancer progression, as well as in polycystic kidney disease.  In addition to analyzing cell populations, we are performing functional genomic screens in both projects to identify specific genes and pathways regulating progression.  He is involved in both the Pharmacology and Cancer Biology Training Programs and is on the Steering committee for both programs.  He has trained over 25 Fellows and currently has 3 students doing their 
PhD thesis in his lab.
Research Profile

Kristen Nowak, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor

Dr. Nowak conducts research on the mechanisms of vascular dysfunction in patients with kidney diseases – notably, those suffering from chronic kidney disease and autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) – as well as on novel therapeutics to alleviate such dysfunction. Dr. Nowak has unique expertise in identifying integrative physiological mechanisms mediating vascular dysfunction, as well as in epidemiology, having recently completed a Master of Public Health. Dr. Nowak’s K01 Career Development Award, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, evaluates the efficacy of curcumin, a naturally occurring polyphenol, in order to improve vascular function and slow kidney growth in children and young adults with ADPKD. Dr. Nowak helped establish the clinical vascular physiology laboratory for the Division. Additionally, she serves as a member of the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board Panel B.
Research Profile

Carlos Roncal
Assistant Research Professor

As a part of his research, Mr. Roncal applies a dehydration model to mice in order to investigate the effects of dehydration on kidney function. He also studies the role of fructokinase for the potential regulation of vasopressin, the effects of uric acid in type-two diabetic nephropathy, and the ways in which fructose and uric acid may affect metabolic syndrome and renal disease in animal models. Mr. Roncal mentors professional research assistants and fellows in the Anschutz Medical Campus labs. 


Wei Wang, MD
Research Instructor

Dr. Wang was trained as an M.D. in China and has joined the division doing medical research since 1996. She has studied in the areas of renal transplantation and acute kidney injury. Most recently, she has joined the polycystic kidney disease focus groups and has been involved in clinical trials aiming at slowing the disease progression of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) in both children and adults. Her primary research interests are mechanisms of disease progression and therapeutic potentials in ADPKD.

Research Profile


Mary Weiser-Evans, PhD
Professor
Co-Director of the Consortium for Fibrosis Research and Translation

Dr. Weiser-Evans co-directs the Consortium for Fibrosis Research and Translation, which is an initiative to positively impact human health by better understanding fundamental fibrosis mechanisms and to serve as a platform for developing transformative therapies that treat fibrotic diseases across organ systems. She also is chair of the Dean’s Research Advisory Committee, which is composed of a group of senior-level School of Medicine research faculty who advise the Dean and Vice Chancellor for Research on matters related to research, a member of the admissions committees for the Pharmacology and Integrated Physiology Graduate Programs, Director of PHCL 7620 Principles of Pharmacology, and Faculty Mentor on several NIH T32 Training Grants.

The Weiser-Evans Lab focuses on research in vascular biology with an emphasis on the role of the vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) in regulating vessel homeostasis, pathological vascular remodeling, and fibrotic changes reducing vascular compliance.  Ongoing studies use in vivo and in vitro approaches, combined with translational studies in diseased human tissues, to define defects in anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory processes in these pathologies.  Results from Dr. Weiser-Evans’s lab demonstrate that SMCs are genetically reprogrammed in situ to generate a pool of resident vascular progenitor cells.  The lab is now working to define the functions of SMC-derived stem cells in the maintenance and repair of the vessel wall, as well as to define their role in disease progression so as to determine the therapeutic potential in vascular repair, bioengineering of blood vessels, and the revascularization of ischemic tissues.
Research Profile


Zhiying You, MD, PhD
Assistant Research Professor

Dr. You has training in both medicine (MD) and Biostatistics (PhD). Through collaboration and contributing expertise of statistics, he has been involved in a variety of research, particularly clinical trials and epidemiological studies. Dr. You’s primary research interests include the design, analysis, and interpretation of clinical trials and epidemiological studies, the application of statistical principles and methods in health-related research, and the development of new statistical techniques. He is especially interested in cluster randomized trials, longitudinal data analysis, causal inference as well as their application in health-related research. By serving as a biostatistician on many projects, he has extensive experience in study design and data analysis in health-related research. Dr. You has also accumulated valuable experience through his collaborations with investigators in a variety of fields, including research in renal diseases and hypertension, cancer research, basic medical sciences, preventive medicine and public health science, and health services and policy.
Research Profile