On Studying Kidneys in Beantown: Abby Terlouw Talks Summer Research at Harvard

Abby Terlouw stands in the lab.

Photo by CB Creatives Inc., courtesy University of Arkansas Honors College.

Abby Terlouw is an undergraduate studying biomedical engineering here at the U of A. This past summer, she had the opportunity to participate in the Harvard Summer Research Program in Kidney Medicine, a program supported by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Disorders (NIDDK). Below, she reports on her experience:

The summer following my junior year, I had the opportunity to perform research at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) as part of the Harvard Summer Research Program in Kidney Medicine. This program partners undergraduate students with research labs in Boston’s four major hospitals—Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women’s, Boston Children’s, and Beth Israel Deaconess—to study various aspects of kidney medicine for eight weeks. I was paired with Dr. Dennis Brown to research how the protein aquaporin-2 (AQP2) is trafficked throughout kidney principal cells under the influence of two drugs: chlorpromazine and dasatinib. AQP2 is responsible for concentrating urine and maintaining water balance in the body. In a condition known as nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI), patients are unable to concentrate urine resulting in severe dehydration and excessively diluted urine. A typical adult should produce one to two liters of urine each day. Patients with NDI can produce upwards of ten to twelve liters of urine per day. NDI can be caused by genetic factors or induced by lithium, a common medication to treat bipolar disorder. By better understanding how AQP2 is trafficked throughout cells, we hope to create new therapies to treat NDI.