Graduate School alumna Vanja Krneta-Stankic’s research on kidney development was published in Cell Reports and featured on the cover of the July issue. In this Q&A with the Graduate School, Stankic discusses her first-author paper and how studying at the school helped her achieve this publishing accomplishment.
Can you explain your research featured in Cell Reports?
“How cells remodel their adhesions is one of the central questions in epithelial tissue biology. Cells adhere to each other using cell-surface proteins such as E-cadherin. In this paper, we examined the process of cell-cell adhesion during kidney development. Kidneys consist of a network of epithelial tubules called nephrons, and their morphology is vital for kidney function. We show that a protein called Daam1 regulates localization of E-cadherin and adhesion of nephric cells, subsequently regulating nephron shape. These findings provide a new framework for studying the adhesion of epithelial cells and nephron development.”
What does it mean to you to have this work published in such a high-impact journal?
“As with many projects, there were a lot of ups and downs along the way. For example, we utilized various experimental techniques in novel contexts, so experimental procedures had to be optimized. This process was labor-intensive and frustrating at times. However, it was very gratifying once experiments started to work and entirely worth it in the end. I am excited to see the work published and share it with the greater scientific community. It is also a testament to overcoming the challenges we faced along the way.
“I want to thank my thesis advisor, Dr. Rachel Miller, for making this project possible. I am incredibly appreciative of her support and guidance. Additionally, I want to thank the Miller and the McCrea lab members for their support. I am also tremendously grateful to all my advisory committee members for their valuable feedback and comments on the project. And ultimately, many thanks to all our collaborators on this project.”
How did your training at the Graduate School help with this accomplishment?
“The GSBS allowed me to interact with so many amazing and supportive scientists that were instrumental in pushing this project forward. Besides, it presented scholarship opportunities that helped with the funding of this project. Thank you, GSBS!”
Krneta-Stankic graduated in the fall of 2020 with a PhD in Genes and Development. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of GSBS faculty Jichao Chen, PhD. Her advisor was Rachel Miller, PhD.