ETSU’s Polichnowski receives grant to study kidney disease

Published 8:57 am Monday, March 16, 2020

JOHNSON CITY — Dr. Aaron Polichnowski of East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine recently received a grant from ETSU’s Research Development Committee to further his research of kidney disease and hypertension.

“Kidney disease and hypertension are very prevalent diseases in the United States population,” said Polichnowski, assistant professor in Quillen’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. “Kidney disease affects about 15% of the population; hypertension affects about 30%.”

Inherited kidney diseases are the fifth most common cause of renal failure, he added.

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Since genetic risk factors increase the susceptibility to developing kidney disease, Polichnowski’s lab is focusing on the urokinase receptor, which when increased can lead to cell proliferation and growth and has been shown to be involved in both kidney disease and tumor growth.

He is examining the role of the urokinase pathway in the development of kidney disease and hypertension.

“The goal of this research is to contribute to the benefit of society and to reduce the prevalence of these very common disease in the United States,” Polichnowski said. “Hypertension is not only a risk factor for kidney disease, it’s also a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke and mortality.”

Polichnowski joined the ETSU Quillen College of Medicine faculty in 2016. He earned a bachelor of science degree from ETSU, a master of science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Ph.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in nephrology at Loyola University Chicago. His research interests focus on acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, hypertensive kidney disease and regulation of renal blood flow.

“The ultimate goal of my lab to produce novel information that one day may improve the lives of people,” Polichnowski said.

To learn more about Quillen College of Medicine, visit