Dr. Benjamin (Beno) Freedman, UW Assistant Professor of Medicine, Nephrology, KRI Investigator and Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM) Investigator, utilizes human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to better understand the pathophysiology of kidney diseases and to innovate therapies. Dr. Freedman has continuously studied the cell biology of vertebrate stem cells. Hallmarks of his work include 1) the application of stem cells for studying disease and regeneration, 2) quantitative comparison of gene mutants using biochemistry and microscopy, 3) functional assays providing stoichiometric insight into protein dynamics and activity, and 4) reconstitution of complex physiological phenomena in defined component systems in vitro.
As an NIH Research Fellow and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Freedman led a multi-institute collaboration to generate and characterize hPSCs from polycystic kidney disease (PKD) patients, leading to the identification of the first hPSC phenotype relevant to kidney disease. He’s also developed protocols describing directed differentiation of hPSCs, initially into kidney progenitor cells, and most recently into mini kidney organoids that functionally model morphogenesis, physiology, and nephrotoxic acute kidney injury. Combining this with a cutting-edge CRISPR gene-editing technology, he established kidney organoid models for two genetic diseases, PKD and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. These are the first hPSC ‘disease-in-a dish’ phenotypes for the kidney. Dr. Freedman has been the principal investigator on the primary grants supporting these studies from NIH/NIDDK and the National Kidney Foundation.