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Novel therapies for preventing kidney failure in chronic kidney disease


PhD and Master of Phil opportunities, at Centre for Transplantation and Renal Research, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, are open to students with genuine research interests in NHMRC funded research projects aiming to develop therapeutic cures for preventing kidney failure in chronic kidney diseases.


Dr Guoping Zheng, Professor David Harris.

Research location

Westmead - Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Program type



Kidney fibrosis is a key process driving progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) toward end stage kidney disease (ESKD), yet to date there is no established treatment specifically preventing kidney fibrosis. In Australia currently almost 21,000 patients with ESKD require expensive life-long dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. TGF-β has long been identified as the most important cytokine causing fibrosis in all inflammatory diseases. However, inhibition of TGF-β will also suppress its anti-inflammatory and wound healing functions, a controversy for decades in treatment of fibro-inflammatory diseases of all organs. Our lab was the first to show that β-catenin can be targeted specifically to separate TGF-β's profibrotic and anti-inflammatory effects (published in J Cell Sci) and our recent research provide strong evidence that Foxo/β-catenin is the pivotal target to dissect "wanted" from "unwanted" effects of TGF-β in fibro-inflammatory diseases such as CKD. The hypotheses will be examined in our established in vitro and in vivo models of inflammation and fibrosis and in human kidney biopsy specimens, using robust techniques including T cell fate mapping, CRISPRcase9 gene editing and Cre-lox mediated conditional knockout. Therapeutic approaches in development include small molecule drugs and chimeric signaling receptor (CSR)-mediated cell therapies with patent registered.

Additional information

A/Prof Guoping Zheng is a medical graduate committed to medical research. His research has been focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms of fibro-inflammatory chronic kidney diseases, in particular, on roles of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and differentiation of TGF-β profibrotic vs anti-inflammatory effect in kidney fibrosis. He obtained his PhD (Medicine) degree from University of Sydney. He obtained continuing success in securing funding from NHMRC and other resources. He has supervised 3 PhD and one Master of Phil students with successful completion as primary supervisor, and co-supervised more than 8 HDR students including students from overseas, and attracted and supervised over 10 postdoctoral researchers from overseas institute.  All students completed their degree with publications in high impact journals in top ranked nephrology (J Am Soc Nephrol), leading pathology and cell biology (Am J Path, Lab Invest, J Cell Sci) journals.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2215