2015 SRF Summer Scholar Profile: Brian Shing

Brian Shing

SRF Summer Scholar, Class of 2015

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

My name is Brian Shing, and I am an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. I am a rising junior and intend to major in Molecular and Cell Biology.

My first research experience was as an intern for BNNI-SHARP (Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute Summer High School Apprenticeship Program) at UC Berkeley. As an intern in Alex Zettl’s lab, I worked under the guidance of Ashley Gibb. My project aimed to use nanotechnology and materials science to improve existing microscopy capabilities for researchers. I synthesized graphene, a monolayer of carbon atoms, to create an enclosure that could be filled with a solution of biomolecules. This enclosure would allow nanometer resolution imaging of biomolecules under hydrated conditions using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), a microscope that transmits electrons through a sample for imaging.

Currently, I am a research member of NanoNerve, Inc. and Song Li’s lab at UC Berkeley. NanoNerve is a biotechnology start-up specializing in neural regeneration that has developed a synthetic graft to aid nerve regeneration. I work primarily under the guidance of Dr. Shyam Patel. I culture pluripotent stem cells and characterize the graft’s efficiency in differentiating the stem cells into neuronal stem cell lineages. I characterize the differentiation by employing histological techniques to stain the cells for imaging. Next semester, I intend to continue this ongoing research endeavor to develop a product that can regenerate nerves in patients with peripheral nerve damage.

Making the world a better place is a worthwhile goal. I am excited to be working at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) because the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine could hold the key to treating many currently untreatable diseases and conditions.

Development of a Delivery System of Placental Stem Cell-derived Trophic Factors for Treatment of Kidney Diseases

This summer, I will be working in Drs. In Kap Ko, James J. Yoo and Anthony Atala’s lab on a kidney regeneration project. Kidney disease is a leading cause of death in the United States [1]. Three major forms of kidney disease are acute kidney injury (AKI), chronic kidney disease (CKD), and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). AKI and CKD are conditions where the kidney loses its ability to function and filter blood efficiently [2]. AKI can often worsen into CKD, which affects 8-16% of the population globally [3]. Further degradation of renal function can lead to ESRD, a life-threatening condition where the kidney completely fails.

Current medical therapies for renal disease primarily revolve around hemodialysis or kidney transplantation. Both of these treatments have inherent limitations. Dialysis can replace the kidney in filtering metabolic waste from blood, but it is merely a supportive treatment that only manages symptoms and slows disease progression. Dialysis also cannot replace other critical renal functions, such as synthesizing erythropoietin hormone to stimulate red blood cell production [4]. Consequently, treatment of renal disease should promote efficient regeneration of functional renal-specific cells. Cell-based approaches that can replace or restore damaged renal cells may provide an excellent alternative to current treatments.

Figure 1. Kidney Regeneration Project Overview.

Use of conditioned medium secreted from human placental stem cells for kidney regeneration.

Recent advances in stem cell biology and cell culture techniques have facilitated the development of cell therapy for preclinical and clinical translation [5, 6]. Particularly, recent studies have reported that secretome, such as growth factors, derived from therapeutic cells could enhance regeneration of damaged tissues [7]. WFIRM has recently tested the feasibility of using secretome from therapeutic stem cells for the treatment of kidney diseases.

This summer, I will be working with the WFIRM team to explore a novel delivery system that allows for efficient delivery of the secretome secreted from human placental stem cells (hPSCs) and evaluate the secretome’s effect on renal regeneration. This project could lead to novel therapies that could improve the lives of patients suffering from kidney disease throughout the world.

Future Plans:

After I have finished my education, I would like to work in the biotechnology industry. I am also interested in exploring the possibility of conducting biomedical research as a military researcher.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC National Health Report: Leading Causes of Morbidity and Mortality and Associated Behavioral Risk and Protective Factors—United States, 2005-2013. 2014.

[2] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Kidney Disease Statistics for the United States. 2012.

[3] Jha, Vivekanand, et al. Chronic Kidney Disease: Global Dimension and Perspectives. The Lancet 382 (9888) : 260-272 (2013).

[4] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease. 2014.

[5] Eirin A, Lerman LO. Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Chronic Renal Failure. Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2014; 5:83.

[6] Rosenberg ME. Cell-Based Therapies in Kidney Disease. Kidney International Supplements 2013; 3:364-67.

[7] Pawitan JA, Prospect of Stem Cell Conditioned Medium in Regenerative Medicine”, Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:965849

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