John Poulton, PhD, has joined the UNC Kidney Center faculty to work in basic science research in kidney diseases. Dr. Poulton attended Florida State University as an undergraduate and for his graduate work, and recently completed his postdoctoral fellowship at UNC. He answers some questions here about his background and his research.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL. I later moved to Tallahassee, FL to attend Florida State University.
Would you tell us about your postdoc and your research background?
For my postdoctoral work, I joined Professor Mark Peifer’s lab in the Department of Biology and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill. My research integrated genetics, microscopy, and cell and developmental biology to address the roles of tumor suppressor proteins and the cytoskeleton in accurate cell division and genome stability. My work also investigated the consequences of errors in these processes at both the cellular and tissue level.
What will be your area of focus in your research at the Kidney Center?
My future research will continue my general scientific approach of answering basic scientific questions to help unravel the complexity of the biological processes that underlie both normal human development and disease. Given my research interests in cytoskeletal regulation, cell signaling, and cell division, my primary goals are to understand how these key biological events contribute to kidney development, identify novel genes that affect the kidney, and functionally characterize genetic mutations in patients suffering from diseases of the kidney. Ultimately, by understanding the function of the genes and proteins that govern kidney development and function in model organisms (e.g., flies and zebrafish), we can help identify potential therapeutic targets and treatments.
What specifically interests you about doing research related to the kidney or glomerular diseases?
I am particularly excited to apply my scientific training to issues related to kidney disease. The kidney is a complex, multi-functional organ. As a result, kidney diseases come in many forms, exhibiting a diverse range of clinical manifestations and underlying causes. As a scientist, this complexity offers many opportunities to further our understanding of how kidneys are formed during development, what goes wrong in disease, and of course how specific genes may be involved in those processes. I look forward to working with my colleagues at UNC to address these vital questions.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Probably as a result of growing up in Florida, I love to fish—especially in the saltwater. If I’m not over at the coast fishing, I might be on the west side of the state hiking in the mountains.