Nathan A. Zaidman

My research focuses on the role of an atypical G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) called Gpr116. In the Pluznick lab, we are focused on how Gpr116 and other GPCRs affect kidney physiology. Recently, I discovered that Gpr116 is a significant regulator of acid excretion by the kidney. More specifically, Gpr116 acts to inhibit runaway acid secretion in A-type intercalated cells in the collecting ducts. This discovery addresses a major gap in my field’s understanding of how A-type cells regulate acid secretion. Furthermore, since Gpr116 is an atypical GPCR with some unique structural features, we can begin to form hypotheses about the biomechanical cues that may reveal how Gpr116, and other similar GPCRs, affect our physiology.

Questions & Answers

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?

I joined the Pluznick lab to work on understudied GPCRs with the goal of discovering a novel physiological phenomenon.

What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally? Do you have any connection with the particular award you received?

Receiving recognition for my work means a great deal to me, especially when it comes from colleagues who I look up to as mentors. I hope this award helps me to attain my goal of becoming an independent investigator. However, when I told my wife I got this award, I still had to clean the dishes.

What contributed to your project’s success?

One of the main reasons I joined Dr. Pluznick’s lab was that she assured me I would be encouraged to follow the science wherever it took me. The Gpr116 project had many unexpected twists and turns, but I was always allowed to investigate based on the results of my experiments. This allowed me to collaborate with many great scientists from Johns Hopkins and other renowned institutes, which enhanced the success of my project and my postdoctoral training.

What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators’ Day itself, as a celebration of the roles students and fellows play in research at Johns Hopkins?

As someone who works on the inside, I know how integral and essential trainees are to Hopkins and all biomedical research. Celebrating the contributions of young investigators on Young Investigators’ Day is a great way to recognize the achievements of trainees and propel them into larger roles.

What has been your best/most memorable experience while at Johns Hopkins?

I really have enjoyed volunteering during the Johns Hopkins Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s great to see the Hopkins community working in our Baltimore community.

What are your plans over the next year or so?

I hope to get enough data to put together another manuscript, and then I’ll be sowing the fallow fields of the faculty job market.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.

When I was little, my dad and I use to water our neighbor’s houseplants in Maplewood, Minnesota, when he was away. The neighbor’s name was Courtland Agre, and his son was a promising young scientist in Baltimore.