The lymph nodes, liver and kidney are not passive filters for toxins, but complex organ systems that perform an astonishing array of critical functions. To help patients who have suffered damage to these organ systems, this year’s Broad Clinical Research Fellows are pioneering new regenerative strategies.

As a clinical instructor of medicine (fellow) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Roshan Rajani, MD, will research regenerative approaches to treating chronic kidney disease. Specifically, he will explore the body’s pH as a tool for boosting its population of regenerating kidney cells.

Rajani will perform this research under the mentorship of Nuria M. Pastor-Soler, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and assistant dean for research mentoring at the Keck School.

A second Broad Clinical Research Fellow, Anthony I. Squillaro, MD, MPH, pediatric surgery research fellow, will study regenerative strategies to treat liver disease. He aims to develop tissue-engineered liver, grown from a patient’s own stem cells.

Squillaro will conduct his research in the laboratory of Tracy C. Grikscheit, MD, associate professor of surgery at the Keck School.

A postdoctoral scholar – research associate in the Keck School’s Department of Surgery, Wan Jiao, MD, PhD, will work to develop a stem cell-based treatment for lymphedema, or swollen limbs resulting from the removal of cancerous lymph nodes. To test a new approach to treating this painful condition, Jiao intends to implant stem cells onto a special scaffold into the limbs of rats with lymphedema. He hopes the stem cells will develop into new lymph nodes and channels to drain the swelling.

He will work under the mentorship of Young-Kwon Hong, PhD, associate professor of surgery, and Alex K. Wong, MD, associate professor of clinical surgery.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has funded clinical fellowships at USC, UCLA and the University of California, San Francisco, for the past three years. The fellowships support clinicians performing full-time research related to stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, with $65,000 of salary support, $7,500 for supplies and a $1,500 meeting allowance. Each fellowship is potentially renewable for a second year.

“Physician-scientists are essential partners as we translate our stem cell advances into new strategies for patient care,” said Andy McMahon, PhD, W.M. Keck Provost Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and Biological Sciences, chair of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, and director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC. “By supporting our talented and hard-working clinical fellows, the Broads are making a visionary investment in the medicine of the future.”

— Cristy Lytal