Interview with Professor Jamie Davies

Posted Wed, Oct, 07,2015

This author interview is by Professor Jamie Davies of University of Edinburgh. Professor Davies's full paper, Self-organized kidney rudiments: prospects for better in vitro nephrotoxicity assays, is available for download in Biomarker Insights.

Please summarize for readers the content of your article.
The article describes a way of making realistic mini-kidneys in culture, and outlines their potential as test-beds for studies in nephrotoxicity.

How did you come to be involved in your area of study?
My deepest motivation has been to understand processes of patterning and self-organization. In the late 1980s, the kidney seemed to be an ideal model in which to study this because the organ is complicated but it will grow in culture, making it accessible to observation and to manipulation, and making it easy to compare with the results of computer modelling. Recently, having gained some understanding of how renal self-organization works, we have begun to apply it to the problem of engineering new organs.

What was previously known about the topic of your article?
The article is a review - all of the facts in it are already known - all I have added is some speculation about future uses.

How has your work in this area advanced understanding of the topic?
Our work has mostly advanced understanding of how very simple agents (cells) without a grant plan of what they are building can cooperate to make something more complex than themselves, and how they can adapt to circumstances and perform error-correction. It has also resulted in methods that encourage stem cells to build complex organs in a natural way, an alternative to the much-discussed ideas of 3-D bioprinting.

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