PRIME is an NIH-funded training grant for predoctoral fellowships for research training in the areas of basic, clinical, translational, and epidemiological investigation in renal disease. Trainees pursue up to two-years of research in the laboratory of an established research scientist, under direction of the graduate theme & faculty mentor.

Trainees will carry out an independent research project in the laboratory of a faculty mentor - a basic scientist or clinician investigator or epidemiological investigator experienced in kidney disease-related research at UAB. Current areas of research interest include kidney and kidney-related physiology and pathophysiology research; epidemiology, outcomes and prevention; experimental therapeutics and biomarkers; genetics and functional genomics; and mediators of kidney disease.


Leslie Donoghue (PRIME Y2)

leslie donoghue PRIME Mentor: Dr. Palaniappan Sethu I Program: Biomedical Engineering

Current research topic: Creating a microfluidic proximal tubular platform to accurately reproduce the structure and function of the tubule as seen in vivo and an automated and high throughput adaptation of this model can be used for evaluation of drug-induced nephrotoxicity.
Future goals (career direction): To continue in the field of tissue engineering in hopes of developing microphysiological systems that enable physiologically based pharmacokinetics, drug discovery, and screening.
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Mary Bunten (PRIME Y1)

Mary Bunten PRIME Mentor: Dr. Matthew Renfrow I GBS Theme: Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics

Current research topic: Phenotyping IgA Nephropathy via protein and proteomic analysis of circulating immune complexes
Future goals (career direction): Work in informatics consulting and be the PI of an IgA Nephropathy-focused lab

Maheshika Somarathna (Alumni)

Maheshika Somarathna Image PRIME Mentor: Dr. Timmy Lee I GBS Theme: Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology

Current research topic
: The Role of Nitric Oxide/Cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate (cGMP) Signaling in Arteriovenous Fistula Maturation
Future goals (career direction): After obtaining my PhD, my ultimate goal is to become an independent investigator at a prestigious university, where I would lead my own innovative biomedical research team to make significant contributions to science.
After PRIME: Maheshika received an NIH F31 Training grant and will continue to advance her research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in "The Role of Nitric Oxide/Cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate (cGMP) Signaling in Arteriovenous Fistula Maturation"

Laurence Black (Alumni)

Laurence Black Image PRIME Mentor: Dr. Anupam Agarwal I GBS Theme: Biochemistry and Structural Biology

Current Research Topics
(1) The site-specific role of HO-1 during acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) and (2) the dynamic signature of renal lymphangiogenesis and its role in kidney diseases.
PRIME Research Topic:Myeloid-specific heavy chain ferritin in AKI, its role in iron trafficking during injury, and how it regulates ferroptosis, or iron-mediated cell death
Future goals (career direction): be an NIH-funded principal investigator in nephrology to continue to help elucidate novel pathways and mechanisms specific to the prevention and resolution of kidney disease. My ultimate goal is to eventually acquire a dean position within a graduate program, in conjunction with my research laboratory, as I also enjoy policy and development of curricular programs.
After PRIME: Laurence is currently an NIDDK T32 Post-Doctoral Trainee at the University of Alabama at Birmingham working with mentor: Dr. Anupam Agarwal. 
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Patrick Molina (Alumni)

Trainee Selection

Selection of trainees is based on the demonstrated ability of the candidate and his/her career choice and potential for an academic career. Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents and have received a baccalaureate degree by the beginning date of their NRSA appointment as well as being enrolled in a research PhD program at UAB.

PRIME Scholar Resources

Courses & Journal Club

GBSC 700.VTZ JC- Cardio-Renal Physiol. Dr. Christian Faul
The Cardio-Renal Physiology and Medicine Journal Club explores state-of-the-art topics in vascular and renal physiology and pathophysiology. Topics are rotated monthly to provide focus on the cardiovascular and renal system, while highlighting interplay between the systems based on their underlying physiology. Students will gain insight into hypothesis testing, critical thinking skills, new paradigms for research, and cutting-edge experimental methods and models. 

GBSC 741- Fundamentals of Renal Physiology. Dr. Kelly Hyndman
This course objective is to provide detailed understanding of renal physiology through a series of lectures, histology analyses, small group discussion, workshop based study problems, and simulations. 

GBSC 732- Advanced Study of Renal Physiology. Dr. David Pollock
The objective of this course is to increase familiarity with classic renal physiology terminology, improve understanding of mechanisms for evaluating renal function, and to become familiar with the forefronts in research related to renal physiology and disease.

Career Development

PRIME students are awarded opportunity to attend professional conferences that fit their career direction and path. UAB also provides great opportunities for PRIME students to participate.
UAB Opportunities:
Center for Clinical & Translational Sciences
Graduate Biomedical Sciences
SMART Seminars
Specific Aims Seminar

In addition, consider the following opportunities:
Kidney TREKS - American Society of Nephrology: (Tutored Research and Education for Kidney Scholars), "is designed to foster interest in careers in nephrology and research through a week-long research course retreat and long-term mentorship program."
Kidney STARS - American Society of Nephrology: in conjunction with ASN Kidney Week - directed and engaging way to participate in ASN. Includes travel funds for the meeting.

Grant Deadlines (2020)

American Society of Nephrology: Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award (Deadline TBA)

National Institutes of Health - Individual National Research Service Awards (see NRSA Training Page)
      F Series: April 8, August 8, December 8

American Heart Association: Pre-doctoral Fellowship (Deadline TBA) - August 2019, prior year submission
*Please note- this is not an exhaustive list

Grant Review Opportunities

Grant Writing Classes
Offered through GBS

SPARC: Scientific Peer-mentoring and Advisory for Renal and Cardiovascular fellows)

SMART Review: (Study section Meeting and Review Training)
A mock study section that consists of a rigorous peer review of early stage career grants including AHA predoctoral, postdoctoral, scientist development grants, NIH F-series, or any other similar grant. A review committee consisting of trainees (postdocs and predocs) and a senior member of the section are appointed for each grant cycle.  The senior member facilitates the review process as if trainees are at a real study section. The goal is to provide training on how the peer review process works in regards to grants in order to gain knowledge of what actually occurs at study section. Not only does SMART reviews provide excellent peer review training, but also it greatly improves the quality of grants that are submitted.For more information regarding SMART reviews, or if you would like to serve on a panel or submit a grant for review, please contact Carmen De Miguel (

Contact: Rena Becker - 205-934-2853 or Dr. Jennifer Pollock - 205-975-7525
Funding provided: NIH T32 DK 116672