Understanding the function of the kidney filter, Molecular pathogenesis of the nephrotic syndrom
Germany (bvmd) - Universitaet zu Koeln, Cologne
Nephrological Research Lab
Prof. Dr. Thomas Benzing / PD Dr. Bernhard Schermer
Dr. Liebau, Dr. Fabretti, Ms. Borgal, Dr. Schurek, Dr. Zank
8 weeks
Cities/Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Augt Sep Oct Nov Dec
No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Diseases of the kidney filtration barrier are a leading cause of chronic kidney disease and endstage renal failure. The human kidney filters about 180 Liters of primary urine per day which is basically free of proteins. Filtration takes place in a million mini filter units called glomeruli. The filter that is responsible for the enormous filtration function of glomeruli consists of three layers, the glomerular endothelium, the basement membrane and podocytes, the visceral epithelial cells of the renal glomerulus.
We could show that terminally differentiated and highly specialized podocytes are required for integrity and function of the kidney filtration barrier. Podocytes are characterized by their complex architecture with interdigitating foot processes. These processes are connected by a highly specialized cell junction called the slit diaphragm.

Our lab is among the world leading laboratories in podocyte research. We have demonstrated that signaling at the slit diaphragm is of central importance for the function of the glomerular filtration barrier. We are currently using conditional knock-out mouse models as well as C. elegans and Drosophila to address the function of slit diaphragm proteins. Some of these proteins are conserved in evolution and, in addition to serving as essential proteins at the renal filtration barrier, act as guidance signal in synaptogenesis or morphogens in eye development.
The particular project will be embeded in this work on podocyte signaling in health and disease.
What is the aim of the project?
What techniques and methods are used?
Techniques: Molecular cloning, PCR, Western Blot, Cell culture experiments, IF microscopy, gene transfer, model organsims
What is the role of the student?
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
Teachings: seminars and group meetings, weekly Journal Clubs and occasionally seminars within collaborative research centers
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Immunoprecipitation and Western Blot, molecular cloning, cell culture experiments, basics of microscopy, PCR-cloning, basic biochemical and biomedical skills Requirements - high enthusiasm - FLUENT english
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts:
- Medical students
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