Weining Lu MD

Associate Professor, Nephrology

650 Albany St | (617) 414-1770
Weining Lu
Sections

Nephrology

Centers

Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research

Biography

Dr. Lu is a Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Laboratory Medicine at Boston University and Boston Medical Center. He is also the Primary Mentor for medical students, graduate students, undergraduate students, fellows, and postdocs in the Nephrology Section Department of Medicine. Dr. Lu’s laboratory focuses on basic and translational research in nephrology and genetics, including kidney development, congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) and vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), podocyte biology and injury, pericyte biology, and kidney fibrosis, ROBO/SLIT and ZEB signaling, pre-clinical animal models of kidney disease, as well as the discovery of new biomarkers, artificial-intelligence-based digital pathology tools to improve diagnosis and clinical trials and novel drug development for chronic kidney disease. His significant scientific contributions in the field of nephrology and genetics include: (1) discovering ROBO2 as one of the causative genes for CAKUT and VUR (OMIM 610878), (2) identifying SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling as a novel drug target for proteinuric kidney diseases, which functions as a negative regulator for podocyte adhesions in podocyte biology and injury, (3) creating the first animal model for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD1), and (4) discovering ZEB2 as one of the causative genes for glomerulocystic kidney disease and its essential role in kidney stromal progenitor cell differentiation and kidney fibrosis. In recognition of his seminal contribution to the development of a potential new drug for chronic kidney disease in collaboration with Pfizer, Dr. Lu was named the 2019 Boston University Innovator of the Year, an award bestowed annually on a faculty member who “translates their world-class research into inventions and innovations that benefit humankind.” Dr. Lu is the Chair of the Core Oversight Advisory Committee in the Department of Medicine, a Co-Director of the BU Clinical and Translational Institute (CTSI) R-Grant Writing Workshop, the Lead Director of the Inaugural BU Biomedical Innovation Technologies Affinity Research Collaboratives (BIT-ARC), and a voting member of the Boston University Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). He is also a fellow of the American Society of Nephrology and the International Society of Nephrology. Dr. Lu is an Academic Editor of the scientific journal PLOS ONE and a member of the NIH grant review study sections of various grant mechanisms, including R01, R21, R03, F32, RC1, RC2, RC4, R13, R15, U01, UH2, UH3, U24, U54, P01, P20, and P50.

RESEARCH PROGRAM:

The primary research interests of Dr. Lu’s laboratory focus on basic and translational research in four scientific areas. (1) Molecular genetics of the kidney and urinary tract development and congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). (2) Biological function and disease mechanism of kidney and urinary tract congenital disability genes and their roles after birth in chronic kidney diseases. (3) SLIT/ROBO and ZEB signaling in kidney and urinary tract development and disease. (4) Discovery and development of new biomarkers, novel drug targets, and therapeutics for patients with chronic kidney and eye diseases.

Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) is a complex congenital disability with a diverse phenotypic spectrum, including kidney anomalies (e.g., renal agenesis, multicystic dysplastic kidney, hydronephrosis) and ureteric anomalies (e.g., vesicoureteral reflux, obstructive uropathy) (Ref 1, 2). CAKUT is also the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure in children and young adults under 40 (Ref 3).

Dr. Lu’s basic and translational research program has adopted combined human and mouse molecular genetics approaches to identify developmental genes important in kidney and urinary tract development and pathogenesis of CAKUT. The first human molecular genetics approach is to study patients with CAKUT and apparent genetic defects using gene mutations, genomic imbalances, and chromosomal rearrangements as signposts to identify disease-causal genes (reverse genetics) (Ref 2). After that, molecular identification and analysis of disease genes and mutation studies in affected patients with a familial pattern of CAKUT will be carried out (forward genetics) (Ref 2, 4). The second approach is to study temporal and spatial expression patterns of disease genes in human and mouse models. Concurrently, the knockout and transgenic mouse models of human disease genes will be generated and examined to recapitulate the human disease phenotype. Once these disease genes (e.g., ROBO2, SLIT2, ZEB2) are identified and animal models are created, a multidisciplinary research approach will be taken to gain further mechanistic insights (in vivo and in vitro) on the role of these genes in normal and abnormal developmental processes of the kidney and urinary tract, and on the pathogenesis of CAKUT and kidney injury after birth (Ref 5-9). The multidisciplinary research approach includes pre-clinical animal models, patient samples, and biomarker studies using different new biomedical technologies and research techniques in molecular genetics, developmental biology, protein biochemistry, molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology, and computing & data sciences. Dr. Lu’s basic and translational research program connects the bench and bedside. It has generated new knowledge of disease mechanisms of CAKUT and kidney disease after birth, which advances the discovery of novel drug targets and therapeutics for patients with chronic kidney disease (Ref 7-10) (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/bumc-rip_1111516.php & https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-05/buso-rsn050420.php).

Current research projects in Dr. Lu’s lab include:
1). Molecular genetics of kidney and urinary tract development and congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT).
2). Podocyte biology & injury in podocytopathy and nephrotic syndrome. Pericyte biology & injury in renal fibrosis.
3). Discover new drug targets and novel therapeutics for patients with proteinuric kidney diseases & neovascular retinal eye diseases.
4). Development of new biomarkers and artificial intelligence-based digital pathology tools for improved diagnosis and clinical trials of kidney and eye diseases.
Dr. Lu’s research program is supported by grants from the government (e.g., NIH, DOD), foundations (e.g., NKF, MOD), industry (e.g., Pfizer), and BU/BMC internal awards (e.g., DOM, Evans Center, CTSI, Ignition Award).

REFERENCES:
(1). Lu W, Bush KT, Nigam SK. Regulation of ureteric bud outgrowth and the consequences of disrupted development. In Kidney Development, Disease, Repair and Regeneration (ed. Little MH), Pages 209-227 (Elsevier, 2016) (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128001028000187)
(2). Lu W, van Eerde AM, Fan X, et al. Disruption of ROBO2 is associated with urinary tract anomalies and confers risk of vesicoureteral reflux. Am J Hum Genet 2007; 80:616-632. PMID: 17357069 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17357069).
(3) Calderon-Margalit R, Golan E, Twig G, et al. History of Childhood Kidney Disease and Risk of Adult End-Stage Renal Disease. N Engl J Med 2018; 378(5):4280438. PMID: 29385364 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29385364).
(4) Hwang DY, Kohl S, Fan X, et al. Mutations of the SLIT2-ROBO2 pathway genes SLIT2 and SRGAP1 Confer Risk for Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract. Hum Genet 2015; 134(8):905-916; PMID: 26026792 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026792).
(5). Rasouly HM, Kumar S, Chen S, et al. Loss of Zeb2 in mesenchyme-derived nephrons causes primary glomerulocystic kidney disease. Kidney Int 2016; Aug 30. PMID: 27591083 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27591083).
(6) Kumar S, Fan X, Rasouly HM, et al. ZEB2 controls kidney stromal progenitor differentiation and inhibits abnormal myofibroblast expansion and kidney fibrosis. JCI Insight 2023, Jan10;(8)1:e158418. PMID: 36445780. https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/158418
(7) Fan X, Li Q, Pisarek-Horowitz A, et al. Inhibitory effects of Robo2 on nephrin: a crosstalk between positive and negative signals regulating podocyte structure. Cell Reports 2012; 2:52-61. PMID: 22840396 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22840396).
(8) Fan X, Yang H, Kumar S, et al. SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling pathway inhibits nonmuscle myosin IIA activity and destabilizes kidney podocyte adhesion. JCI Insight 2016, Nov 17; 1(19):e86934. PMID: 27882344 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27882344).
(9) Pisarek-Horowitz A, Fan X, Kumar S, et al. Loss of Roundabout Guidance Receptor 2 (Robo2) in Podocytes Protects Adult Mice from Glomerular Injury by Maintaining Podocyte Foot Process Structure. American Journal of Pathology, 2020; 190(4):799-816. PMID: 32220420.
(https://ajp.amjpathol.org/article/S0002-9440(20)30024-9/pdf).
(10) Beck LH, Berasi SP, J. Copley B, Gorman D, Levy DI, Lim CN, Henderson JM, Salant DJ, Lu W. PODO: Trial Design: Phase 2 Study of PF-06730512 in Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. Kidney Int Rep 2021; 6(6):1629-1633. PMID: 34169203. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ekir.2021.03.892


VISION STATEMENT of Dr. Lu’s laboratory on scientific research and medical education: (1) to advance new knowledge, biomedical innovation, and scientific learning; (2) to promote understanding, collaboration, diversity, and inclusion in biomedical research and education; (3) to contribute positively to the medical and biomedical innovation ecosystem and society at large.
CORE VALUES: Curiosity, Innovation, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, Hard work, Perseverance, Honesty, Fair play, Courage, Integrity.

LAB MEMBERS:

Xueping Fan (PhD, McGill University), Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, 617-414-1772, xpfan@bu.edu.

Sudhir Kumar (DVM, PhD, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich), Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, 617-638-7353, kumars@bu.edu.

Ryan Chahal (Third Year [M3] Medical Student at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine). Research project: “Molecular control of kidney macula densa cell development”. Current BU MD medical student, chahalry@bu.edu

Adhya Ramganesh (Boston University 7-Year Combined Liberal Arts / Medical Education Program). BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), Research project title: “Non-invasive measurement of renal function in a pre-clinical animal model of chronic kidney disease.” Current BU BA/MD student, adhyasub@bu.edu

Harshita Pattam (Boston University 7-Year Combined Liberal Arts / Medical Education Program). BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), Research project title: “Analyzing a Mouse Model of Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract.” Current BU BA/MD student, hpattam@bu.edu

Easton Liaw (Human Physiology Major, Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences), pre-medical student, BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), Research project title: “A New Biomarker for Chronic Kidney Disease”, eliaw@bu.edu

Jiayi Amy Ji (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Major, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences). Undergraduate Research Project in Lu Lab titled “Study the 3-D morphology of Kidney Glomerular Structure in an Animal Model of Chronic Kidney Disease”, amy2003@bu.edu

Sedef Yurdakul (BU Trustee Scholar, Human Physiology Major, BU Sargent College), pre-medical student, BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), Research project title: “Validate a new biomarker for lupus nephritis and animal model of proteinuric kidney disease”, sedefyur@bu.edu

Simran Raikundalia (BU Presidential Scholar, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB) Major, BU College of Arts and Sciences) is currently taking the BMB undergraduate research project course in Lu Lab titled “Studying the molecular mechanisms of chronic kidney disease animal models with single-cell RNA sequencing technology” (Course BB340: Junior Research in BMB, two academic credits), simranr@bu.edu

Laura Dodd (Biology Major, BU College of Arts and Sciences) is currently taking the Biology undergraduate research project course in Lu Lab titled “Studying SLIT2 expression in an animal model of chronic kidney disease” (Course BI350: Junior Research in Biology, four academic credits), ldodd02@bu.edu

Aksel Laudon (Biomedical Engineering Major, Boston University College of Engineering), BS/MD student, Modular Medical/Dental Integrated Curriculum (MMEDIC) early acceptance program to BU School of Medicine MD program. Competed in a BU Biomedical Engineering Senior Project in Lu Lab titled “Digital Biopsy for Glomerular Ultrastructural Measurement in Transmission EM Images” (Course: ENG BE465, two academic credits, and ENG BE466, four academic credits). Current BU Medical Student, alaudon@bu.edu

GRADUATED FORMER PHD STUDENTS:

Hila Milo Rasouly (PhD, Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine). PhD thesis title: “Discovery and analysis of genes important in kidney development and disease.”

Anna Pisarek-Horowitz (PhD, Graduate Program in Molecular Translational Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine). PhD thesis title: “Functional characterization of the SLIT2-ROBO2 signaling pathway in the podocyte”.

GRADUATED FORMER MS STUDENTS:

Tou S. Thao (MS in Medical Sciences Program, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine). MS thesis title: “Functional study of ROBO2 missense mutation identified in patients with congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT)”. Medical Student at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Current PGY1 Emergency Medicine Resident Physician.

Biomedical research projects for students and postdocs are available. For inquiries regarding these research opportunities, please contact Dr. Lu at wlu@bu.edu

Other Positions

Education

Medicine, MD, Zhejiang University

Biomedical Sciences, MSc, Northeastern University

Publications

Published on 1/10/2023

Kumar S, Fan X, Rasouly HM, Sharma R, Salant DJ, Lu W. ZEB2 controls kidney stromal progenitor differentiation and inhibits abnormal myofibroblast expansion and kidney fibrosis. JCI Insight. 2023 Jan 10; 8(1). PMID: 36445780.

Published on 9/1/2022

Wu CW, Lim TY, Wang C, Seltzsam S, Zheng B, Schierbaum L, Schneider S, Mann N, Connaughton DM, Nakayama M, van der Ven AT, Dai R, Kolvenbach CM, Kause F, Ottlewski I, Stajic N, Soliman NA, Kari JA, El Desoky S, Fathy HM, Milosevic D, Turudic D, Al Saffar M, Awad HS, Eid LA, Ramanathan A, Senguttuvan P, Mane SM, Lee RS, Bauer SB, Lu W, Hilger AC, Tasic V, Shril S, Sanna-Cherchi S, Hildebrandt F. Copy Number Variation Analysis Facilitates Identification of Genetic Causation in Patients with Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract. Eur Urol Open Sci. 2022 Oct; 44:106-112. PMID: 36185583.

Published on 4/12/2022

David L, Martinez L, Xi Q, Fan X, Kooshesh KA, Zhang Y, Shah JV, Lu W, Maas RL, Wu H. Piezo mechanosensory channels regulate centrosome integrity. bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. 2022.

Published on 4/3/2021

Beck LH, Berasi SP, Copley JB, Gorman D, Levy DI, Lim CN, Henderson JM, Salant DJ, Lu W. PODO: Trial Design: Phase 2 Study of PF-06730512 in Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. Kidney Int Rep. 2021 Jun; 6(6):1629-1633. PMID: 34169203.

Published on 2/2/2021

Berasi S, Buhlmann JE, Higginson-Scott N, Shamashkin M, Russo M, Gulla SV, Juo ZS, Kodangattil SR, Lu W, Fan X, Salant DJ. RECOMBINANT ROBO2 PROTEINS, COMPOSITIONS, METHODS AND USES THEREOF. US Patent No. US10906955B2. Sponsor/Assignee: PFIZER and BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER. 2021.

Published on 10/23/2020

Berasi S, Buhlmann J, Shamashkin M, Russo M, Yang Y, Knowlton K, Higginson-Scott N, Lin H, Andresen C, Jones R, Fan X, Kumar S, Sharma R, Pydi A, Salant DJ, and Lu W. A ROBO2 fusion protein (PF-06730512) traps SLIT ligands and therapeutically ameliorates podocyte injury. 2020 Kidney Week. 2020.

Published on 10/16/2020

Vargas SR, Ritenour C, Tyszkiewicz C, Hwang SK, Liu CN, Tomlinson L, Berasi S, Fan X, Lu W, Yang H. Deep Learning for Quantitative Image Analysis of Morphological Changes in Podocyte Foot Processes in Electron Micrographs of Rat Model of Passive Heymann Nephritis. 2020 Digital Pathology & AI Congress. 2020.

Published on 9/4/2020

Connaughton DM, Dai R, Owen DJ, Marquez J, Mann N, Graham-Paquin AL, Nakayama M, Coyaud E, Laurent EMN, St-Germain JR, Blok LS, Vino A, Klämbt V, Deutsch K, Wu CW, Kolvenbach CM, Kause F, Ottlewski I, Schneider R, Kitzler TM, Majmundar AJ, Buerger F, Onuchic-Whitford AC, Youying M, Kolb A, Salmanullah D, Chen E, van der Ven AT, Rao J, Ityel H, Seltzsam S, Rieke JM, Chen J, Vivante A, Hwang DY, Kohl S, Dworschak GC, Hermle T, Alders M, Bartolomaeus T, Bauer SB, Baum MA, Brilstra EH, Challman TD, Zyskind J, Costin CE, Dipple KM, Duijkers FA, Ferguson M, Fitzpatrick DR, Fick R, Glass IA, Hulick PJ, Kline AD, Krey I, Kumar S, Lu W, Marco EJ, Wentzensen IM, Mefford HC, Platzer K, Povolotskaya IS, Savatt JM, Shcherbakova NV, Senguttuvan P, Squire AE, Stein DR, Thiffault I, Voinova VY, Somers MJG, Ferguson MA, Traum AZ, Daouk GH, Daga A, Rodig NM, Terhal PA, van Binsbergen E, Eid LA, Tasic V, Rasouly HM, Lim TY, Ahram DF, Gharavi AG, Reutter HM, Rehm HL, MacArthur DG, Lek M, Laricchia KM, Lifton RP, Xu H, Mane SM, Sanna-Cherchi S, Sharrocks AD, Raught B, Fisher SE, Bouchard M, Khokha MK, Shril S, Hildebrandt F. Mutations of the Transcriptional Corepressor ZMYM2 Cause Syndromic Urinary Tract Malformations. Am J Hum Genet. 2020 10 01; 107(4):727-742. PMID: 32891193.

Published on 3/24/2020

Pisarek-Horowitz A, Fan X, Kumar S, Rasouly HM, Sharma R, Chen H, Coser K, Bluette CT, Hirenallur-Shanthappa D, Anderson SR, Yang H, Beck LH, Bonegio RG, Henderson JM, Berasi SP, Salant DJ, Lu W. Loss of Roundabout Guidance Receptor 2 (Robo2) in Podocytes Protects Adult Mice from Glomerular Injury by Maintaining Podocyte Foot Process Structure. Am J Pathol. 2020 04; 190(4):799-816. PMID: 32220420.

Published on 10/25/2019

Huang M, Zhu S, Huang H, He J, Tsuji K, Jin WW, Xie D, Ham O, Capen DE, Lu W, Paunescu TG, Yang B, Lu HAJ. Integrin-Linked Kinase Deficiency in Collecting Duct Principal Cell Promotes Necroptosis of Principal Cell and Contributes to Kidney Inflammation and Fibrosis. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2019 11; 30(11):2073-2090. PMID: 31653783.

View full list of 83 publications.