Emily Major
Emily Major
Emily Major

Emily Major

‘Discovering the influence of the NLRP3 inflammasome on Polycystic Kidney Disease progression.’

LaTrobe University, VIC
Awarded 2023
Co-funded with PKD Australia Ltd
‘The Pamela Maud Ratcliff’ PKD PhD Scholarship

“When the kidney becomes diseased, the effects can be catastrophic. There are lots of unknown answers about PKD which seemed like the perfect mystery for me to solve.”

General Health PhD Scholarship

Researcher Profile

I have always been passionate about making a difference in the lives of people living with chronic disease, and I feel the best way of doing so is through research. Over the past 5 years, I have pursued a career in scientific research, developing my knowledge and skills as a scientist and researcher.

Growing up in regional Victoria, the opportunities to explore science is limited. The first science program I was involved in was the Rotary’s National Youth Science Forum. In my last year of high school, I was accepted to take part in the National Youth Science Forum, participating in the Brisbane session at the University of Queensland. I was then chosen to be apart of a small group of 9 participants to attend the international session at the University of Singapore. These experiences encouraged me to pursue a career in science.

In 2021, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine and decided to continue my studies, focusing on kidney diseases. My honours project is focused on polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and is trying to understand how the immune system influences disease progression. Through my research I hope to find a therapeutic solution which could potentially improve the quality of life of patients with PKD.

Project Summary

The aim of this project is to understand how the immune system contributes to the progression of polycystic kidney disease (PKD).   Patients with PKD commonly have high blood pressure, which can increase their risk of cardiovascular disease. More and more research show that the immune system and inflammation contribute to the development of high blood pressure and cyst growth in PKD.

However, the exact cells that contribute to both high blood pressure and cyst growth in PKD is not fully understood. This means that the chance of developing new therapies that can slow the progression of cyst growth and target blood pressure rises is limited.

This project will use technology called “transcriptomics” which can tell us information about every single cell in the kidney. This allows us to compare information from healthy and diseased kidneys, ultimately leading to the discovery of new pathways that cause both high blood pressure and cyst growth during PKD progression. Once identified, these pathways might be able to be targeted with new drugs that could slow the progression of PKD.

Supervisors: Dr Brooke Huuskes and Professor Grant Drummond

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