About Dr Sonia Saad

Dr Saad’s has a passion for medical research. She is specifically interested in understanding the origin of chronic kidney disease and developing novel biomarkers for early diagnosis and treatment options.

Dr Saad gained her BSc with Honours in 1994, her MSc in 1998 and her PhD in 2002 from the University of Sydney. She has a strong national and growing international reputation. She is a committee member of the Scientific Staff Council, a committee member of the New Horizons conference, a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology Meeting and the Chair of the Meetings Committee of the Combined Scientific Research Meeting involving the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney and the Kolling Institute. Dr Saad's research interest is in progressive renal disease and metabolic disease. She has extensive experience in animal models of kidney disease and human research. She has expertise in epigenetics, protein quantitation and analysis, cell signaling, oxidative stress, mitochondrial function, gene analysis, cell imaging, renal pathology and function. She has been involved in multiple clinical trials and is currently a lead investigator on a clinical study which aims to predict future risk of chronic kidney disease in offspring of obese mothers with and without type 2 diabetes. Dr Saad has developed multiple commercial collaborations and has been successful in obtaining financial supports from different commercial partners for her research. She is also experienced in supervising junior staff and PhD students. She has been critical to the success of an ARC linkage grant in collaboration with Pharmaxis "Novel therapies to limit renal fibrosis in diverse models of renal disease" which lead to 3 peer reviewed publications and a review. In addition, she was the lead researcher for an NHMRC research project grant "Improving treatment for patients with diabetes" which resulted in 5 publications and two successful PhD completions.

Career Summary I commenced my research interests in progressive renal disease in 2002, shortly after I was awarded my PhD. During my research career and while working on a part time basis and going through severe medical illness, I co-authored 47 manuscripts (32 were published in the last 5 years). Three additional manuscripts are currently under review. Most of my research has been published in high ranking and high impact journals, such as JASN (top in the field), Kidney International, Diabetologia, Scientific Reports, FASEB Journal, IJBCB and AJP-Renal Physiology (sandstone Journal). The outcome of my research was highlighted on the cover of Kidney International in 2005; in Global Medical Discoveries in 2014 and on the HCPLive website (MD magazine which covers high impact Medical news for physicians) in 2016. My work has been cited ~1000x (some cited > 100 times). I have published extensively in the area of renal and metabolic disease (frequently associated with renal disease). Over the years, I have developed multiple national and international collaborations with clinicians and academics as well as multiple industry partners to sponsor my translational research.

Research Support My research has attracted over 2 million dollars from both competitive grant schemes and industrial investment (e.g. NHMRC project grant, Diabetes Australia Research Trust project grants, Hillcrest foundation, Community Engagement Grant, Rebecca Cooper, Staff Specialist grants, International Travel Fellowship, Accugen Research grant, Amgen and Ramsay Teaching and Research awards). I was also successful in obtaining various internal research seeding grants such as Energizer Grant and ECR-PhD scholarship which not only provided financial support for my research activities but also scholarships to support my PhD students.

Commercial agreements I have established strong partnerships with different biotech including Pharmaxis, Gratuk, MediKane, MitoQ, Bio-Rad and Sangui Bio and have signed multiple research agreements to support my research over the next 3 years.

Contribution to field of research I was involved in demonstrating that fluctuating glucose levels has an adverse effect on renal pathology which importantly contributed to the implementation of a new policy for monitoring postprandial glucose levels in diabetic patients. I discovered new pathways leading to water retention with the use of TZDs (highlighted on the cover of Kidney International in Sept 2005). My previous collaboration with Pharmaxis led to the acquisition of one of the tested drugs (SSAO inhibitor) by Boehringer Ingelheim (currently being trialed for liver fibrosis). In addition, I have assisted in the development of AccuCal for gene quantification in collaboration with Accugene. I also characterized a novel hyperspectral technique (patent-APN 2012904896) in collaboration with Ewa Goldys (Depart of Physics, Maquarie University) and Quantitative-Biotech (Gosnell et al. Scientific Reports 31(6) 2016). This led to the clinical use of this technique for retinal degeneration (currently being tested). I was the first to demonstrate the importance of maternal programming on kidney disease. I have demonstrated the mechanisms involved in maternal obesity and maternal smoking induced CKD development in the offspring at adulthood (highlighted on Global Medical Discoveries and on the HCPLive website). My work demonstrated that intervention during pregnancy can reduce the risk of CKD development in the offspring at adulthood. This is currently being investigated.

Supervision and mentoring I have supervised 8 PhDs, 6 Masters and 1 Honours and 2 summer students to completion affiliated with Sydney University or the UTS (I hold an Honorary position). I am currently supervising 4 PhD students, 2 Honours students, a research assistant and 2 visiting scholars. I am also involved in teaching undergraduates and Medical students at the UTS and USyd.

Peer review and international standing
I am a regular reviewer of manuscripts in my research field. I am also a regular assessor for different national and international funding bodies including NHMRC, Diabetes Australia Research Trust fund, Dutch Kidney Foundation Kolff Grants, Diabetes UK and National Kidney Foundation Hungary.

Community engagement and participation/Professional involvement I acted as a PC2 manager and an interviewer for Medical students. I have been an active member of the Scientific Staff Council. I have had a key involvement in the management of the Combined Scientific Research Meeting (involving the University of Sydney, The UTS, Royal North Shore Hospital and the Kolling Institute) for 12 years (served as Chair since 2005). I have recently received an Eminent Contribution Award for my contribution in the Meeting. I am also a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology, a committee member of the New Horizons Conference, an external reviewer for the therapeutic and goods administration and a guest editor for PPAR Journal.

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Dr Saad's publicatons, please visit her Sydney Medical School profile page.