Dr. Felsen received her BA degree from Queens College and her PhD in Pharmacology from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. She was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Philip Needleman in the Dept. of Pharmacology at Washington University in St. Louis, studying renal prostaglandin synthesis in the obstructed kidney. Following completion of the fellowship, she was recruited by then chairman E. Darracott Vaughan, Jr. to join the faculty at Weill Cornell.
Dr. Felsen is currently the co-director, with Dr. Dix P. Poppas, of the Institute for Pediatric Urology Research Laboratory at Weill Cornell. The laboratory has several areas of interest including the following:
Pathophysiology of ureteral obstruction - Congenital urinary tract obstruction [CUTO] is the leading cause of pediatric end stage renal disease. In the North American Pediatric Renal Trials and Collaborative Studies registry, CUTO accounted for 22% of children with chronic kidney disease. On prenatal ultrasound, between 1% and 4.5% of all pregnancies demonstrate a dilated urinary tract, potentially indicative of significant obstruction of the kidney. There are currently no treatment options to improve or maintain the function of the obstructed kidney during the evaluation period. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that once the kidney is damaged, it will continue to worsen over time even if the obstruction is repaired, leading often to renal failure. We have had a long-standing interest in obstructive injury and have identified several cytokines which may be involved in damage due to obstruction. Our laboratory is currently involved in studying the mechanotransduction of pressure and stretch signals in the kidney to identify mechanisms by which kidney damage is induced.
Why do wounds heal better in the pediatric population? It is generally agreed that wounds in children heal better than those in adults, but the reasons for this are unclear. We are interested in the role that cytokines, including interferon-ϒ and Inerleukin-22, may play in this process. Our laboratory has developed a unique model which uses full thickness human skin transplanted in a nude rat for wound healing studies. The transplanted tissue is viable, vascularized and undergoes angiogenesis; furthermore, surgical incision of the transplanted skin is followed by healing, with appropriate wound strength. Using this model, as well as studies with keratinocytes in vitro, we are currently assessing the mechanisms by which these cytokines modulate wound healing.
SS-peptides in aging and dysfunction in the genitourinary system: Mitochondria play a central role in generating energy in cells, through production of ATP. Many diseases and the aging process are characterized by a decline in bioenergetics. A recently discovered class of drugs, the SS-peptides [reviewed in Szeto HH, Clin Pharm Ther 96:672, 2014] have been shown to optimize efficiency of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and thereby restore cellular bioenergetics and prevent and/or reverse disease processes. In the GU system, mitochondrial dysfunction has been documented in ureteral obstruction, bladder outlet obstruction and testicular torsion. Our studies are currently focused on determining if SS-peptides can prevent or reverse the renal, bladder or testicular dysfunction associated with these conditions. If successful, this could provide new therapeutic options for conditions in which there are currently none available, or where current therapy is less than optimal.
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