Joseph V. Bonventre, M.D., Ph.D.

Joseph V. Bonventre, M.D., Ph.D.

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Massachusetts General Hospital
Joseph Bonventre photo credit University of Washington

The Bonventre lab studies renal cell carcinoma, focusing on the functional role of the protein 'Kidney injury molecule-1' as well as its role as a urinary biomarker for renal cell carcinoma and renal epithelial cell injury.

Joseph Bonventre has had a long-standing interest in various aspects of cellular injury and repair mechanisms in the kidney, in particular the role of inflammation, biomarkers and stem cells.

Bonventre established the origin of the epithelial cells that repair the kidney after injury as dedifferentiated surviving proximal tubule cells. He was the first to describe the role of proximal tubule cell cycle arrest in the maladaptive fibrosis that can occur after severe injury leading to chronic kidney disease.

Bonventre also discovered and characterized Kidney Injury Molecule-1 (KIM-1) as the most highly upregulated protein in the proximal tubule after injury to the kidney of various types. Kim-1 expression converts the proximal tubule cell to a phagocyte. Kim-1 is  has been qualified by the FDA and European Medicines Agency as a sensitive and specific urinary biomarker for kidney injury in preclinical studies of nephrotoxicity.

Bonventre published the first demonstration of creation of an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line from a kidney disease, polycystic kidney disease, which has an abnormality with plausible significance with respect to the etiology of the disease. iPS cells generated from fibroblasts of humans with autosomal dominant PKD had reduced ciliary levels of polycystin-2, which could be rescued in iPS-derived hepatoblasts by overexpression of polycystin-1.  This work opened up the possibility to conduct "kidney clinical trials in a dish" with patient specific cells that can by evaluated for efficacy of potential therapeutic agents.

Bonventre developed a rapid, efficient process by which human iPS and ES cells can be differentiated into intermediate mesoderm and subsequently form organoids - multisegmented kidney structures containing glomerular-like cell clusters surrounded by a epithelial layer mimicking Bowman's capsule, flowing into a continuous tubular structure with properties of proximal tubule, followed by loop of Henle and distal convoluted tubule.  These proximal tubule structures have secretory function and specificity of response to toxins.

KIM-1 is expressed with nephrotoxins only in proximal tubule segments. We supplemented this work with studies using genome editing (CRISPR) approaches to inactivate genes to study PKD and the function of podocalyxin, a glomerular podocyte protein, to regulate cell-cell interactions.


Joseph V. aBonventre is the Samuel A. Levine Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is Chief of the Renal Unit and Chief of the Engineering in Medicine Division at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Director of Health Sciences and Technology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and professor at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology, Brigham And Women's Hospital. Bonventre is a member of the Kidney Cancer Program at the Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center.

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