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Dr David Long
Room 221
Nephro-Urology Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
London
WC1N 1EH
Appointment
  • Reader in Paediatric Nephrology
  • ICH Development Bio & Cancer Prog
  • UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences
Biography

I am a scientist based in the Developmental Biology and Cancer theme at the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) with over twelve years of experience in the renal and vascular biology fields. My initial research experience was gained at UCL under the supervision of Adrian Woolf as a MRC-funded PhD student. After my PhD, I was awarded a competitive Bogue Research Fellowship from UCL to study with Professor Richard Johnson for 18 months in the USA. I subsequently returned to UCL where I embarked on postdoctoral research before obtaining my own independent fellowship to build my own research team. My main research interest has been in understanding the role of the vasculature in renal development and disease. Key contributions to this field have been studies examining angiogenesis and vascular growth factors in models of kidney disease (acute tubular necrosis, diabetes, polycystic kidney disease), and children with chronic kidney disease. More recently, I have developed a strong interest in podocyte biology and diabetes, the leading cause of renal disease worldwide, and the on-going work of my research team is primarily examining epithelial-endothelial interactions in normal and diseased glomeruli. Overall, in my career to date, I have published 45 research articles and have obtained two personal fellowships with the award of a Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship from Kidney Research in 2008 and a MRC New Investigator Award in 2012. I have also obtained project grants from Kidney Research UK, Diabetes UK, Kids Kidney Research and Great Ormond Street Children's Charity. I am a member of the Kidney Research UK Research Grants Committee and an academic editor for the journal PLoS One. These achievements were recently recognised by UCL and I was promoted to a principal research associate in 2013.

Research Summary

The overall aim of my research is determining the underlying causes of renal and vascular disease; and devising new therapeutic strategies to treat these conditions. Currently, over 47,000 people in the UK (1,000 of which are children) suffer from kidney disease; there is no cure and patients require dialysis and transplantation..


Current research areas in the laboratory include:

1) Identifying new biomarkers and therapeutic targets in early kidney disease. Defects in the glomerular filtration apparatus lead to albuminuria; an early warning sign for several chronic glomerular diseases including diabetic nephropathy. Therefore, the discovery of molecules deregulated in "leaky" glomeruli may suggest novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in early kidney disease. One recent discovery, was the demonstration that the angiopoietins, vascular growth factors involved in the formation of blood vessels play a key role in this process. Our recent work has demonstrated that modulation of angiopoietins prevents albuminuria and the progression of diabetic kidney disease. We have used a combination of genetic approaches to identify other novel molecules that may play a role in albuminuria and the functional role of these genes is currently being tested using zebrafish.


2) Podocyte cell shape and glomerular disease. We have been investigating genes which control cell shape, movement and division through cytoskeletal organisation in the glomerular podocytes. Our hypothesis is that podocyte shape is essential to maintain the structure and function of the glomerular filtration barrier; hence molecules which alter this process may impair glomerular development and function and contribute to the progression of kidney disease. Modulating these pathways may be a promising new therapy for renal disease in the future.


3) Angiogenesis in renal health and disease. A long-standing research interest is investigating endothelial damage and unsatisfactory vascular repair in chronic kidney disease and whether this is due to disturbance of vascular growth factors. We have performed several studies using gene delivery of pro-angiogenic compounds as a potential novel therapy for kidney disease. At a more translational level, my group is working with colleagues at GOSH to examine vascular growth factors in children with CKD.


Main collaborators:

UCL: Paul Winyard, Rukshana Shroff, Eugenia Papakrivopoulou, Lesley Rees, Steve Wilson, Mark Lythgoe,  John Deanfield, Andy Copp, Alan Salama

University of Manchester: Adrian Woolf, Rachel Lennon

Kings College London: Luigi Gnudi, Cathy Shanahan, Mike Robson

University of Oxford: Paul Riley

Imperial College London: Charlotte Dean

University of Denver: Richard Johnson

Teaching Summary

My main teaching activity involves the supervision of PhD students, clinical research fellows, postdoctoral researchers and undergraduate students. I am a supervisor for the UCL BHF 4 year PhD studentships in cardiovascular biomedicine and currently supervise the following PhD theses: 


Hortensja Brzoska "Understanding the role of planar cell polarity in the kidney filtration barrier" (Co-supervisor: Eugenia Papakrivopoulou, UCL).

Alexandra Todd "The role of VEGF and angiopoietin in endothelial dysfunction in children with chronic kidney disease stage 5" (Co-supervisors: Rukshana Shroff, UCL and Lesley Rees, UCL). 

Joanna Laycock "Examining the effects of vitamin D receptor activators on vascular smooth muscle cell calcification using a model of intact vessels from children with chronic kidney disease" (Co-supervisors: Rukshana Shroff, UCL and Cathy Shanahan, KCL).

Jiaqi Pan "A novel role for the transmembrane protein Nogo-B in protection against cardio-renal vascular disease" (Co-supervisor: Luigi Gnudi, KCL).


I have also supervised research projects for students from both the UCL MSc in Biomedical Sciences and MSc in Paediatrics and hosted several undergraduate students in the laboratory for summer vacation scholarships. In addition, my research team has hosted A-level students as part of the UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre Summer School. I have also been involved in the supervision of clinical fellows and am currently the sponsor of a Wellcome Trust clinical postdoctoral fellow at UCL (Dr. Eugenia Papakrivopoulou).

Academic Background
2003 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Pathobiology University College London
1999 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Biomedical Sciences University of Southampton
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