Introducing the Inaugural Scholars of K12 Urology Research at Stanford (KUReS) Career Development Program in Benign Urology

Meet the inaugural scholars of the K12 Urology Research at Stanford (KUReS), Kathleen Kan, MD and Alexandra Polasko, PhD!

Kan, a clinical assistant professor of urology and a pediatric urologist, studies pediatric lower urinary tract symptoms (pLUTS), a prevalent and often overlooked condition affecting elementary school-aged children, using a community-engagement approach.  She will focus on the development of momentary assessment and observation tools in school settings to capture child- and school-level factors in daytime bathroom use with the long-term goal is to reduce disease burden and improve local policies and practices.  Her multidisciplinary mentors include Anisha Patel, MD and Korey Hood, PhD from the Department of Pediatrics and James Brooks, MD from Urology.

Polasko, a postdoctoral scholar in urology with an engineering background, will investigate the role of bone morphogenic protein 5 (BMP5) in the pathophysiology of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common disease that affects a large percentage of aging men with lower urinary tract symptoms.  BPH, according to Polasko, is characterized by abnormal growth of the prostate stromal and epithelial compartments.  She and colleagues have discovered that transcript levels of BMP5 produced by a subset of prostate fibroblasts are upregulated 50-fold in human BPH tissues compared to normal prostate.  “Our findings suggest BMP5 plays a promoting role in human BPH growth and BMP5 inhibition may be an effective treatment for BPH patients,” added Polasko, who will perform her research in the lab of James Brooks with additional mentorship from Sharon Pitteri and Jon Pollack.

Based in the Department of Urology, KUReS is a new multidisciplinary career development program funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).  Under the leadership of program directors Joseph Liao and James Brooks, KUReS provides mentorship and funding support for the promising early-stage urologic surgeon scientists and research scientists who are engaged in advancing research in benign urological diseases.