California Pediatrician Receives National Kidney Foundation Young Investigator Grant

Study Examines AT1R-Ab Antibodies in Pediatric Kidney Transplantation
New York—Wednesday, September 13, 2017– Meghan Pearl, MD, of Los Angeles has been awarded a 2017 Young Investigator Grant by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) for research that will study the effects of a “poorly understood” antibody on kidney transplant outcomes in children.
"This award will give me the opportunity to pursue a project that I am passionate about and hopefully improve the lives of children with end-stage renal disease,” said Dr. Pearl, Clinical Instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Nephrology at Mattel Children's Hospital, UCLA.
She received the grant as part of the NKF Young Investigator Research Grant Program, which strives to improve the quality of life for those with kidney disease by funding promising young scientists in their research to discover the causes of kidney disease, how to prevent its progression and ways to improve treatment for those living with it today. Dr. Pearl’s study aims to maximize kidney transplant survival in children, which is critical given that most of them will require multiple transplants in their lifetimes. She further explained that antibodies in the blood can attack the kidney transplant causing rejection, injury, or failure. Recently, an antibody called angiotensin II type 1 receptor antibody (AT1R-Ab) has been associated with kidney transplant rejection and failure in adults. Little is known about AT1R-Abs in pediatric kidney transplant recipients.
“My research is on a poorly understood antibody that can attack a kidney transplant,” Dr. Pearl said. “We will test blood samples from 200 pediatric kidney transplant recipients for the antibody to examine the prevalence and risk factors for development of the antibody,” she continued. “We also will determine if the antibody is associated with blood vessel injury, decline in renal function, rejection, and transplant failure.”
The study will enrich the understanding of the effects of AT1R-Ab on outcomes in the vulnerable pediatric population. The long-term objective is to understand how to incorporate AT1R-Ab testing into kidney transplant monitoring and treatment to improve kidney transplant survival in children.
“Ultimately, we hope to help discover how to make kidney transplants last longer and, therefore, significantly improve the lives of children with end-stage renal disease.” Dr. Pearl said. Our NKF Young Investigator Research Program exists to help Dr. Pearl and other pioneering researchers reach such potentially groundbreaking results.
“It’s critical that we stay on the front lines of clinical science that discovers better ways to treat and fight kidney disease,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant recipient. “It’s our responsibility and privilege to support researchers whose cutting-edge work can lead to real breakthroughs for each one of the millions of kidney patients like me.”
The NKF Young Investigator Grants are awarded for one-year terms. They are given based upon careful and balanced peer review by an independent committee, with an emphasis on the support of high-quality, clinical investigation.
Kidney Disease Facts
30 million American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t aware of it. 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history of kidney failure. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are 3 times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information about NKF visit