Bhalla Lab Members

Vivek Bhalla, MD

Principle Investigator

I direct a basic science research program on the role of the kidney in diseases such as diabetes and hypertension using in vivo and in vitro approaches. I collaborate with investigators at Stanford, and others nationally, and internationally. My current research programs include five components related to kidney physiology and pathophysiology. I study: (1) diabetic kidney disease, (2) mechanisms of hypertension in the setting of obesity an dinsulin resistance, (3) the regulation of potasssium transport in obesity and insulin resistance, (4) role of Clcnkb in ion transport, and (5) diuretic-induced tubular hyperplasia and hypertrophy. As a physician-scientist and a practicing nephrologist, I have complementary clinical and translational research interests related to mechanisms of kidney disease and hypertension. I also have leadership roles both at Stanford and nationally. I founded and direct the nationally-accredited Stanford Hypertension Center and direct the Renal physiology curriculum for the School of Medicine. Additionally, I am the Immediate Past Chair of the Kidney and Cardiovascular Disease Council of the American Heart Association.

Mentorship

I have mentored predoctoral (21), and postdoctoral (22) trainees, including a recent K08 awardee, and several have publications based on our work and five are now academic faculty. I participate as a mentor for basic science trainees at national meetings through Kidney STARS at Kidney Week and the APS-Renal Section of the Experimental Biology Annual Meeting and have advocated for funding for basic science nephrology trainees both in periodicals and on social media. I am also the PI of a newly-funded, pre-doctoral institutional training grant for Nephrology (R25). I received a Gottschalk award and know the value of funding of young investigators.


Postdoctoral Scholars

Ying Shi, MBBS, MMed, PhD

Dr. Shi completed her PhD in March 2019 under the supervision of Professor Carol Pollock in the department of Medicine, Northern Clinical School at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her PhD project investigates the role of RIPK3 in renal fibrosis by using diabetes and folic-acid induced nephropathy mouse models. She joined the Bhalla Laboratory in October 2019 as a postdoctoral scholar and is working on the role of insulin and SGLT2 in diabetic kidney disease.

Predoctoral Scholars

Alondra Valencia

Alondra is a second-year medical student at Stanford University and joined the lab in April 2021 for the NIDDK Medical Student Research Program. Alondra completed her MS in Biology with a specialization in Evolutionary Medicine at UCLA in 2020. Her research project seeks to apply CRISPR base editing techniques to understand the contribution of a G→A SNP of the 3’ UTR in Esm1 to mRNA stability and production. Alondra is interested in health equity, preventive medicine, and medical education. Outside of the lab, Alondra works as an internal director of Flu Crew and a coordinator for the Dermatology Clinic of the Cardinal Free Clinics to help advance care for underserved communities.

Demetri has completed prior research training in nephrology at Tufts University, Harvard Medical School, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Jackson Laboratory where he has worked on projects related to diagnostics in kidney transplant rejection and bioengineering functional kidney tissue from stem cells. He has presented his work at several scientific conferences including the American Society of Nephrology's Kidney Week and the Biomedical Engineering Society's Annual Meeting, and published his work in several scientific journals including the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). He was also a finalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition, and a Two-Time First Place Winner at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest pre-college science competition. Demetri is also the founder of Nephrogen, an early-stage biotech company developing novel diagnostics for acute kidney injury (AKI) in cancer patients on chemotherapy.

 

Demetri Maxim

Demetri is a junior at Stanford studying computational biology and joined the lab in September 2018 to complete an honors thesis project. Demetri’s research interests are focused on using the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system to better understand cyst formation in polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and how repairing the underlying disease mutations may aid in the development of future gene therapies. 

Demetri has completed prior research training in nephrology at Tufts University, Harvard Medical School, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Jackson Laboratory where he has worked on projects related to diagnostics in kidney transplant rejection and bioengineering functional kidney tissue from stem cells. He has presented his work at several scientific conferences including the American Society of Nephrology's Kidney Week and the Biomedical Engineering Society's Annual Meeting, and published his work in several scientific journals including the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). He was also a finalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition, and a Two-Time First Place Winner at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest pre-college science competition. Demetri is also the founder of Nephrogen, an early-stage biotech company developing novel diagnostics for acute kidney injury (AKI) in cancer patients on chemotherapy.

 

Thalia Le

Thalia is a current sophomore, studying Chemistry and Biology at Emory University. She will join Dr. Bhalla’s lab in June 2020 through the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute Summer Research Program. Her research project in the lab seeks to understand the mechanisms of SGLT2 regulation by the insulin receptor, which has potential implications for blood pressure regulation, diabetes, and other cardiovascular and chronic kidney diseases. 

Thalia’s previous research experience at Emory University involves the” Design and Synthesis of Novel RSV Fusion Protein Inhibitors” under the supervision of Dr.Dennis Liotta as well as "the rescue effects of the human EXOSC3 gene on genetically modified Drosophila flies with modeled Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia” under the supervision of Dr. Anita Corbett. Her work has been featured in several scientific journals including the ACS Infectious Diseases Journal. Thalia is the Director of the Programming Committee of the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) chapter at Emory, a nationally-affiliated student-run organization that trains college volunteers to hold public screenings and raise awareness of kidney diseases.

Thalia is a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and also serves as a Captain for Emory Global Ambassadors and a Copy Editor for Emory Undergraduate Medical Review.

Luna Luo

Luna is a 3rd year studying Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, joining Dr. Bhalla’s lab in June 2021 through the Stanford Pre-Renal Initiative. 

Luna also works at the Kuriyan lab at UC Berkeley under the mentorship of Dr. Kendra Marcus, studying the allostery and catalysis of the clamp loader protein, a multimeric AAA+ ATPase essential for DNA replication, featured in a publication in eLife. Last summer, she also worked at Abalone Bio, which uses a high throughput platform to discover functional antibody drug candidates, under the mentorship of Dr. Allison Cooke, studying the solubility of potential drug candidates. 

Luna is the President of the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) at UC Berkeley, which aims to raise awareness about and promote early detection of kidney disease through awareness events and free kidney health screenings, as well as support community organisations in combating racial inequities and structural barriers in health that result in high rates of kidney disease.

Kole Joachim

Kole is a recent graduate of Whittier College who majored in Chemistry, joining Dr. Bhalla's lab in June of 2020. Kole's previous research at Whittier College utilized computational models of diphenyl butadiynes and tetraphenylcyclopentadienone derivatives to elucidate photophysical properties under the supervision of Dr. Ralph Isovitsch and has since been published in the Journal of Luminescence. Kole's interest in kidney disease research began while working in Dr. Kenneth Hallow's lab at USC Keck School of Medicine researching mitochondrial morphology defects in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease models. Kole's research project evaluates the clinical outcomes of patients seen by the Stanford Hypertension Center, including analyzing trends in blood pressure, antihypertensive prescriptions, and clinical orders such as confirmatory tests for secondary causes of hypertension.

As an undergraduate, Kole served as Vice President of his student government, a residential advisor, and a participant in Global Medical Brigades where he traveled to Honduras with healthcare professionals to establish clinical care in rural communities.

Manav Shah

Manav is a recent graduate from Hofstra University, where he studied Biology and Biochemistry with an emphasis in pre-medical studies and research. He joined Dr. Bhalla’s lab in May 2020 and has been analyzing diabetic patient cohorts to present data for a project on the protective ability of a proteoglycan ESM-1 to attenuate diabetes-induced kidney disease. In the past, Manav has worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a project investigating human mammary epithelial cell immortalization and cancer stem cell development involved in early breast cancer progression under the supervision of Dr. Tara Fresques, Dr. Martha Stampfer, and Dr. James Garbe. He has also conducted research at his university in the division of Neurobiology and Behavior on a project to determine the neural biomarkers linked to brood parasitism behavioral patterns under Dr. Kathleen Lynch. During his undergraduate years at Hofstra, Manav served as the President of the Biology Club and the Vice President of Finance for Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity.

Research Assistants

Yanli Qiao

Laboratory Assistant

Yanli has worked in Stanford for many years and joined the Bhalla laboratory in 2017. She works with transgenic mice for the study of kidney disease.  She performs CLCKB gene transfection and protein purification in vitro. She also works with CLCKb knock out mice to study the role of inactivating mutations in ClC-Kb/Kb that causes Bartter syndrome, a disease that mimics the effects of the loop diuretic furosemide. ClC-Kb/Kb is assumed to have a critical role in salt handling by the thick ascending limb.

Holly Deremo

Research Assistant

Holly completed her B.A. in Environmental Biology from the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability in 2013 as a Graham Scholar and worked under the supervision of Dr. Mike Shriberg at the UM Graham Institute. She is currently an MPH Candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, focusing on Epidemiology.

She joined the Bhalla laboratory in October 2017 and has worked on rare disease data collection, patient recruitment, and literature searches. Her research interests include investigating the connection between autonomic disorders and tubulopathies, inherited chloride channel diseases, and disparities in kidney transplant outcomes. Holly is an active member of Research to the People, a biomedical research initiative based in San Francisco focused on patient co-led research. 

Administration

Winnie Ellerman

Administrative Coordinator, Stanford Nephrology

Winnie Ellerman is an Administrative Coordinator for Stanford School of Medicine, Division of Nephrology. She received her BS in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz before serving in the US Peace Corps in Namibia, and later working in the field of Global Health at an Oakland-based nonprofit organization affiliated with the United Nations. 

At Stanford, Winnie works with the Bhalla Laboratory on administrative needs, and enjoys supporting the research of Dr. Bhalla's team. Along with supporting Dr. Bhalla, Winnie coordinates administrative needs of faculty in the division. She can be reached at wellerman@stanford.edu.



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