With a focus on laying the foundation for molecularly targeted therapies, Anna’s scientific work is centered on understanding membrane proteins and fundamental mechanisms of disrupted cellular homeostasis.
Anna’s early scientific work focused on the role of TRP ion channels in essential cellular functions. Combining her expertise in ion channel biology with the study of kidney podocytes, she uncovered a pathway linking TRPC5 ion channel activity to cytoskeletal dysregulation and cell death. Based on these discoveries, TRPC5 inhibitors are now being tested in the clinic for difficult-to-treat kidney diseases.
More recently, Anna and her team made a key discovery of a general mechanism that monitors the quality of membrane protein cargoes destined for the cell surface by studying a proteinopathy in the kidney, caused by a mutation in MUC1. Specifically, they identified a mechanism for membrane protein quality control that is operative in diverse cell types and tissues, such as kidney epithelial cells and retina photoreceptors. The study of cargo quality control and its implications for several toxic proteinopathies is now a major focus of the laboratory.
Anna is also interested in dissecting the fundamental mechanisms of disrupted cellular homeostasis at the intersection of proteotoxicity and lipotoxicity across the lifespan, with implications for many metabolic and degenerative human diseases.
Anna has been the recipient of several honors, including the 2020 Donald W. Seldin Young Investigator Award by the American Society of Nephrology and the American Heart Association, the 2018 Seldin-Smith Award for Pioneering Research from the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), a 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), a 2014 Top 10 Exceptional Research Award from the Clinical Research Council, and a 2014 Young Physician-Scientist Award from the ASCI. She was also elected to the ASCI Council by her peers, and she serves on the Harvard-MIT M.D.-Ph.D. Program Leadership Council.
Anna holds an A.B. in biology from Harvard College, an M.D. from the Harvard-MIT program in Health Sciences and Technology and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from HMS.