BU Researcher Receives National Honor from the American Society for Clinical Investigation

(Boston)—Titilayo Omolara Ilori, MD, MSc, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, is one of 50 recipients of its 2023 Young Physician-Scientists Awards from the American Society for Clinical Investigation. The award recognizes physician-scientists who are early in their first faculty appointment and have made notable achievements in their research.

Ilori is a physician-scientist with expertise in nephrology, epidemiology, nutrition, genetics and global health whose goal is to be an independent, patient-oriented researcher, skilled in conducting mechanistic and interventional studies on the modifiers of kidney disease.

“My various experiences and training have resulted in a strong desire to improve outcomes and survival of individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD), particularly in disadvantaged populations,” says Ilori, who also is a renal medicine physician at Boston Medical Center.

Ilori completed medical school in the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to the U.S. for her internal medicine residency training at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Her formal training in clinical research includes an MS degree from Emory University and certificate courses from Columbia and Harvard, all in clinical research.

During fellowship training in nephrology at Emory University, she completed a basic science post-doctoral research fellowship where she discovered that the urea transporter, (UT-A1) can be phosphorylated by tacrolimus, a calcineurin inhibitor, an important finding because it showed that tacrolimus could phosphorylate UT-A1 independent of vasopressin.

Because of her passion to find solutions to the intricate drivers of health disparities among individuals of African descent, she then switched gears to patient-oriented research. Ilori has worked with various population and CKD cohorts in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. She rose to assistant professor at Emory and then transitioned to the University of Arizona (UA). As a co-investigator in the National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program and UA associate director of Clinical Research and Global Health Initiatives, she led a team that enrolled more than 20,000 individuals underrepresented in biomedical research.

At Boston University, she received a K23 career development grant from the National Institutes of Health studying diet by gene interactions in Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) kidney disease, caused by a powerful genetic risk variant affecting individuals of African descent. Ilori’s lab recently discovered that dietary potassium intake may modify CKD progression in those with the APOL1 high-risk genotypes, a finding that her lab is confirming in clinical and mechanistic studies.

The American Society for Clinical Investigation seeks to support the scientific efforts, educational needs, and clinical aspirations of physician-scientists to improve the health of all people.