Kidney Toxins and Kidney Injury Biomarker Detected in Children

Water supply contamination has become a global issue, affecting communities in both the United States and around the world. Exposure to environmental toxins – such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and other heavy metals – early in life via contaminated water or other sources can have long-term health consequences as children grow. Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Program in Therapeutic Sciences at Harvard Medical School have assessed environmental exposure to multiple toxins in children living in a region of Mexico with a high incidence of chronic kidney disease, especially among young adults. Not only did the team detect high levels of the arsenic and chromium in urine samples from the children, they also were able to detect elevated levels of KIM-1, a biomarker that is being studied as an early sign of kidney injury. The team’s findings are published this week in Environmental Research.

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Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Tue, 19 Jul 2016

Congrats to the Team for winning 9 Awards at SOT 2016

Postdoctoral fellows Priyanka Trivedi, PhD, Mira Pavkovic, PhD, and Susanne Ramm, PhD, along with graduate student Cory Gerlach won nine awards at the 55th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) Meeting.

Priyanka won five of the nine awards for her project "Mechanistic Role of Phospholipase D4 in Regulating Kidney Fibrosis."

Mira won two awards for her project "Early, Sensitive and Mechanistic Detection of Drug-Induced Kidney Injury in Humans using Urinary KIM-1 miR-21, -200c and -423."

Susi won the Award for Exemplary Science from the Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section for her project "A Multiplexed Approach to Predict Kidney Toxicity in Vitro Using heme oxygenase-1 and quantitative phenotypic readouts."

Cory received the First Place Student Award from Northeast SOT Regional Chapter for his project "Application of Small RNA Sequencing to Identify miRNAs in AKI and Fibrosis."

Press Release:

Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Wed, 27 Apr 2016

Congratulations to Mira for winning DFG Fellowship!!

Mira received a very competitive and prestigious 2-year postdoctoral fellowship from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), German Research Foundation. This will allow Mira to investigate miRNAs as translational and mechanistic biomarkers for human kidney toxicity.

The DFG encourages early career researchers to engage independently in research from an early stage in their careers. The research Fellowships are intended to help early career scientists to conduct a defined project at a location of their choice in a country other than Germany.

Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Wed, 4 Nov 2015

Kidney toxicity screening tool developed by grantee and NTP team

A team of researchers, including NIEHS grantees and National Toxicology Program (NTP) scientists, developed the first method to test for kidney toxicity using high throughput screening (HTS). Because drugs and environmental chemicals can cause injury to kidneys, the new test could help reduce a significant health burden for patients and decrease the financial risk for pharmaceutical and chemical companies.

The team, led by Vishal Vaidya, Ph.D. , of Harvard Medical School, and including molecular toxicologist Scott Auerbach, Ph.D., from NTP, published their approach Aug. 10 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. “This high-throughput assay allows, for the first time, rapid and robust screening of kidney toxic compounds, to support chemical risk assessment and facilitate elimination of drug candidates early in the process before they reach humans,” Vaidya said.

Environmental Factor, September 2015 (a newsletter of NIH/NIEHS)

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Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Thu, 3 Sep 2015

Ajay, Susi and Mira win 7 Awards at 2015 SOT meeting

Congratulations to Ajay, Susi and Mira who won 7 awards at the Society of Toxicology meeting in March 2015 at San Diego, CA. 

Amrendra Ajay, PhD

Susanne Ramm, PhD

Mira Pavkovic, PhD


Press release by Brigham and Women's Hospital 

Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Mon, 20 Apr 2015

Society of Toxicology's 2015 Achievement Award

Vishal S. Vaidya, PhD, is awarded the 2015 SOT Achievement Award. 

Dr. Vaidya is the recipient of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) 2015 Achievement Award. He has contributed to advancing regulatory science by modernizing toxicology and has set a high standard for future drug development and patient care. More can be read on any of the following press release pages:

Society of ToxicologyNIH-NIEHS Enviornmental Factor January 2015Brigham and Women's Hospital.


Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Mon, 20 Apr 2015

Vishal interviewed by Genetic Engineering News (GEN)

Weaving a Stronger Drug Safety Net

MaryAnn Labant
GEN, Nov 15, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 20)
The issue of drug safety is as old as drug development itself. Historically, animal models have been the cornerstone of preclinical drug development, resulting in mostly phenomenological observations rather than providing a deeper mechanistic understanding of the side-effects of drugs or compounds in development. Read More in the full article.

Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Mon, 22 Dec 2014

Mariana Wins 2 Fellowships

Heartiest Congratulations to Mariana

Dr. Mariana Cárdenas-González received postdoctoral fellowship grants from Harvard-Mexico Foundation and from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT). Mariana will investigate the sensitivity and specificity of urinary proteins and microRNAs as biomarkers for early detection of kidney toxicity in humans. Her proposal is titled “Screening for early kidney injury in Mexican children living in high-risk scenarios”. 

The Harvard-Mexico Foundation is "Established to ensure that all Mexicans admitted to the graduate and post-graduate programs at Harvard University obtain the financial resources necessary to pursue their dreams". The CONACYT Postdoctoral Abroad Research Fellowship Program is a "response to the search for new options for young Ph.D. graduates to continue their education at the international level where researchers can collaborate with researchers of the highest international level..."

We sincerely appreciate the fellowship support from the two institutions that allows Mariana to continue pursuing her scientific interests.

Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Mon, 13 Oct 2014

Biomarkers Under the Scope

Biomarkers Under the Scope: Harvard Catalyst course explores burgeoning field of study

Shraddha Chakradhar (Published online 14 May 2014 | Harvard Medical School News |

Harvard Catalyst course Nearly 100 members from around the Harvard Medical School community gathered at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences this spring to learn more about biomarkers during four days of coursework offered by Harvard Catalyst, Harvard’s clinical and translational science center. The course, formally titled, “Understanding Biomarker Science: From Molecules to Images,” was filled with information ranging from discovering biomarkers to patenting them and everything in between.

“A biomarker is nothing but a way to classify your body’s abnormal response,” said Vishal S. Vaidya, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the director of the course. “Fever, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, X-Ray images, or mutations in genes could be examples of biomarkers that allow us to understand and classify diseases,” he said. Given this diversity of what constitutes a biomarker, it may seem like our current body of medical knowledge is chock full of biomarkers. Vaidya pointed out, however, that for many diseases, good biomarkers simply fail to exist. Several of the biomarkers currently used to diagnose and treat disease are based on science from decades ago and often can’t detect disease at an early stage. This lack of viable biomarkers, and the fact that there was no formal biomarker community at Harvard, or even in Boston, led Vaidya to create the course. “My vision was to start a course on understanding biomarker science for the Harvard community that offers a one-stop-shop to learn about the field,” said Vaidya. He hopes that the creation of a biomarker community at HMS is the first step toward bringing researchers from different disciplines together to catalyze innovative solutions using biomarkers. “A problem so complex requires team science. That is, basic scientists and clinicians. To not only talk to one another, but to also involve engineers and material scientists. To devise the best ways to measure biomarkers at the bedside,” said Vaidya.

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Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Sun, 1 Jun 2014

Harvard Professor Wins Society of Toxicology Leading Edge in Basic Science Award

In honor of discoveries that illuminate the heart of toxicology, the Society of Toxicology (SOT) presents Harvard Medical School’s Vishal S. Vaidya, PhD, with the 2014 SOT Leading Edge in Basic Science Award. With this award, SOT, a professional association of more than 7,700 toxicologists, annually honors a scientist whose recent research has made seminal contributions to understanding the fundamental mechanisms of the science of toxicology. “Dr. Vaidya’s work over the past five years will change the way textbooks are written and science is conducted with respect to deploying biomarkers for monitoring kidney damage,” says nominator Frank D. Sistare, PhD. “His research has set a high standard for future safety biomarker qualification efforts, while demonstrating the tremendous value that such efforts can bring to drug development.” 

The SOT Leading Edge in Basic Science Award recognizes Dr. Vaidya for his work with a protein known as kidney injury molecule-1 (Kim-1) as a biomarker for kidney injury, including developing new tools for biomarker detection. Due, in part, to the research of Dr. Vaidya and his colleagues, Kim-1 is now an accepted biomarker by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), European Medical Agency, and Japanese Agency for ascertaining renal injury during drug discovery tests. His work also led to the development of a bedside test for monitoring Kim-1 levels in preclinical and clinical settings.

Complete Press Release by Society of Toxicology: Harvard Professor Wins Society of Toxicology Leading Edge in Basic Science Award

Posted by Vishal Vaidya on Fri, 25 Apr 2014