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Joshua Lipschutz MD

Joshua Henry Lipschutz MD

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  • Professor
  • College of Medicine
  • Medicine
Academic Focus
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Ciliogenesis
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Dr. Joshua H. Lipschutz did his undergraduate studies, medical school, and residency at Indiana University, followed by a stint as the director of an emergency room. He then headed west to do his Nephrology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1992.  At UCSF he worked in the laboratory of Jerry Cunha, Ph.D., studying the role of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in urogenital development. This was followed by a second fellowship in the laboratory of Keith Mostov, M.D., Ph.D., for which he received an NIH KO8 Award and was made an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF. In 2001, Josh was recruited to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Medicine within the Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension Division. He successfully established an internationally-recognized independent research program focused on identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating renal cystogenesis and tubulogenesis. Understanding cystogenesis and tubulogenesis is critically important as 500,000 Americans have autosomal polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), a disease of disordered ciliogenesis and cystogenesis that is the fourth leading cause of end-stage renal disease, and millions more suffer acute tubular necrosis (ATN), a leading cause of acute kidney injury (AKI), with AKI being both a strong independent predictor of mortality in hospitalized patients, and a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD).  There are no approved treatments for AKI, and only one for ADPKD, so basic research leading to therapies to shut off inappropriate cystogenesis in ADPKD, or speed tubular recovery following AKI, is essential. His work, published in over 70 scientific manuscripts, has been supported by multiple grants from the NIH, VA, and private foundations. In one of his most significant scientific accomplishments to date, he showed in a paper in Molecular Biology of the Cell (Zuo et al, 2009), that when Exoc5, a central component of the highly-conserved eight-protein exocyst trafficking complex, was knocked down, ciliogenesis, cystogenesis, and tubulogenesis were all inhibited. When Exoc5 was overexpressed, these processes were enhanced. This was followed by a paper in PLoS Genetics (Fogelgren et al, 2011) showing that the exocyst was necessary for ciliogenesis due to its role in trafficking intracellular vesicles containing ciliary proteins, such as polycystin-2 (the protein product of one of the two genes, which when mutated, cause ADPKD). He then showed that the small GTPase Cdc42 was necessary for ciliogenesis and acted to localize and regulate the exocyst at the primary cilium in vitro in cell culture (Zuo et al, 2011, Journal of Biological Chemistry), and in vivo in zebrafish and mice (Choi et al, 2013, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology). In 2013, in recognition of his accomplishments, Josh was promoted at Penn to Associate Professor with tenure.

On July 1, 2014, Dr. Lipschutz took over as MUSC Renal Division Director, Professor of Medicine and Arthur V. Williams Chair. The Division has thrived under his leadership, ranking in 2016 in the top 50 Renal Divisions in the country (#43) per U.S. News and World Report. He has also recruited a number of outstanding Faculty on both the clinical and research side to run the five busy clinical services at MUSC and the VA, the eight outside hemodialysis units in partnership with DCI, Inc., and the expanding research program. Since moving his own Lab to MUSC, Dr. Lipschutz and his collaborators have continued their pioneering ciliogenesis/PKD work with the generation and characterization of an Exoc5 fl/fl mouse that allowed for kidney-specific knockout of Exoc5 (Fogelgren et al, 2015, PLoS One), the demonstration that the exocyst critically interacts with Arl13b during ciliogenesis (Seixas et al, 2016, Molecular Biology of the Cell), and the discovery that Tuba regulates Cdc42, which, in turn, regulates the exocyst (Baek, et al, 2016, Journal of Biological Chemistry). The Lipschutz Lab and his collaborators have also ventured outside of the kidney to show that the role of the exocyst in retinal ciliogenesis is conserved across organs and species (Lobo et al, 2017, Journal of Biological Chemistry). Over the past seven years, two of his postdoctoral fellows have received NIH K-Awards and subsequent tenure-track Assistant Professorships at U.S. research universities, with one, Dr. Fogelgren, recently receiving tenure at the University of Hawaii. Dr. Lipschutz has also served our country, putting in his application to join the military two days after 9/11. He is now a Colonel in the South Carolina Army National Guard, and has deployed four times, including to both Iraq and Afghanistan.