Alumni Spotlight – Christopher Pedigo (PRISM ’09) Earns American Heart Association Fellowship and Other Accolades

Christopher Pedigo, a PRISM alumnus who graduated in 2009, is steadily pursuing his goal of starting his own biomedical research lab.  With just one more year to go in pursuit of his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at the Miller College of Medicine in the University of Miami, Christopher has already published several scholarly articles and received accolades for his work.

Pedigo Blog 1While at John Jay, he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Yi He on a project published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Environmental Science and Health, titled “Bioaccessibility of arsenic in various types of rice in an in vitro gastrointestinal fluid system.”  After he graduated, Christopher spent two years as an adjunct instructor at John Jay and Borough of Manhattan Community College, while continuing to perform research in the labs of both Dr. He and Dr. Nathan Lents.

In 2009, Christopher was accepted into his PhD program and started research with his PI, Dr. Sandra Merscher, and co-mentor, Dr. Alessia Fornoni.  Their work investigates novel causes of Diabetic Kidney Disease (DKD), which affects 40% of diabetic patients, as potential therapeutic targets.  Consequently, Christopher and his lab are looking at the role of circulating factors on the glomerulus in vivo in mouse models and in vitro in the podocyte.

He is co-first author on the publication, “Sphingomyelinase-like phosphodiesterase 3b expression levels determine podocyte injury phenotypes in glomerular disease,” published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In this study, Christopher and his colleagues show that SMPDL3b levels are differently regulated in two glomerular diseases and that these levels determine the type of damage caused by certain circulating factors (more specifically sUPAR).

Christopher earned an American Heart Association Fellowship to help him continue his research and eagerly awaits word on his pre-doctoral NIH F31 fellowship application.  Travel grants awarded to Christopher are allowing him to visit various U.S. locales in order to advance his research and develop his expertise. Christopher is one of five PhD students nationally to receive the Tutored Research and Education for Kidney Scholars grant that will afford Christopher the opportunity to take a week-long kidney physiology class in Maine.  Other travel grants also allow him to attend the Kern Lipid Conference this summer in Vail, Colorado and to attend the American Society of Nephrology Conference in Philadelphia this fall.

PRISM is very proud of Christopher’s accomplishments since graduating John Jay and wishes him the best of luck in all of his academic endeavors.